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Morning Call: After digital format in 2020, Historic Bethlehem garden tour returning with in-person event, featuring 12 beautiful outdoor spaces

June 10th, 2021 |

Written by Ryan Kneller for The Morning Call

For 28 years, the Rooms to View House & Garden Tour has been the premiere spring fundraising event at Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites (HBMS).

After taking on a digital format in 2020 due to the pandemic, the affair returns to its roots this weekend with an outdoor preview party and garden tour.

The 29th annual Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites Garden Tour, featuring a dozen outdoor spaces, kicks off Friday with a preview party at Burnside Plantation in Bethlehem.

Guests will be able to enjoy a safe, socially distanced gathering across the 6.5-acre “farm-in-the-city,” which has remained a farm since its original purchase by James and Mary Burnside in the mid-1700s.

Festivities, running from 5 to 8 p.m., will include catered hors d’oeuvres, food cooked in the historic summer kitchen and music by the Big Wahu Caribbean Band.

Guests will be welcomed by individuals dressed in costume as James and Mary Burnside, and can visit the newly refurbished James Burnside farmhouse and volunteer-run Colonial Kitchen Garden, which won a Blue Ribbon in the 2020 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gardening Contest.

Burnside Plantation is at 1461 Schoenersville Road, and Uber drop-offs are available at the site’s parking lot.

The garden tour is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with stops in Bethlehem, Fountain Hill and Lower Saucon Township.

Private gardens include several in Bethlehem, at the homes of Eric Schenkel and Susan Baum, Colleen and Mark Gilbert, Keith and Audrey Lombardi, Eric and Teather Royse, Claudia Chouinard Brink, Robin Puleo and Maryann and Gary Millenbruch, as well as the gardens of Barry Pell and Paul Mackerer in Fountain Hill.

Additionally, four gardens under the care of Historic Bethlehem will be featured on the tour: the Miller’s Garden in the Colonial Industrial Quarter, cared for by members of the Bethlehem Garden Club; the gardens at Burnside Plantation, planted and cared for by more than 40 volunteers; the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, designed and maintained by The Place; and the 1752 Apothecary.

After the tour, wine and cheese will be available at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts along with the new “Art At Home” exhibition, which celebrates the safe reopening of the Kemerer Museum of the Decorative Arts and explores a personal connection between artwork and the home. The exhibition, included in the ticket price, features art on loan from private collections and spotlights local artists who supported Historic Bethlehem’s mission through the Holiday Dinner & Art Auction.

An accompanying video series will be released Saturday, which will be available to view through June 25. The series features additional private homes and gardens, including the home of Leslie Koch, the kitchen of Rich and Christina Hasselbusch and the kitchen of James and Eileen Serratelli in Bethlehem; the kitchen and outdoor pool of Yasin and Elizabeth Khan in Allentown; and the grounds of Coon Hollow Cottage, property of Cheryl Montero, and Shooting Star Farm in Bucks County.

Tickets for the preview party, garden tour and video series are $125, while tickets for just the garden tour and video series are $40 or $30 for HBMS members. Tickets can be purchased on HBMS’s website,, and all proceeds help maintain 20 historic landmarks in Bethlehem.



What: Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites Garden Tour, featuring gardens, barns and outdoor spaces at a dozen properties in Bethlehem, Fountain Hill and Lower Saucon Township.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

How much: Tickets for the tour and an accompanying video series are $40; 30 for HBMS members


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