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The Kemerer Museum is Closed this weekend to prepare for our upcoming exhibit!

Press Release

Schropp Dry Goods Shoppe Hours

10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

All Site Hours

Release: Trees of Christmas Past and Putz Display

November 14th, 2014

BETHLEHEM, PA— Jump through time and come see the spectacular displays of decorated Christmas trees, each inspired by different time periods. In a celebration of the rich culture of scenic historic Bethlehem, Trees of Christmas Past, will tell the story of Bethlehem’s holiday traditions throughout the last three centuries. This cross-site experience will feature trees at five of our sites, decorated by over 30 volunteers of The Bethlehem Garden Club.

Guests are encouraged to vote for their favorite trees in this year’s contest.  Everyone who votes will be entered to win one year individual membership to Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites including membership to the Smithsonian Institution as a Smithsonian Affiliate, as well as a holiday gift basket including our 2014 Holiday cards, cocktail napkins and ornaments from the Kemerer Museum, so don’t forget to vote! Winners will also receive a free pack of our 2014 Holiday Cards presenting the custom designed “Monocacy Winter” paper cutting artwork from our featured artist, Nancy Shelley.

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts

Scherenschnitte Celebration

Scherenschnitte, which means “scissor cuts” in German, is the art of paper cutting.  Begun in Germany in the 16th century, it was brought to colonial America by German immigrants who settled primarily in Pennsylvania.  This tree will feature paper ornaments in all shapes, speaking to the rich German traditions of this area.

Handmade Holiday

In the 1940s, handmade ornaments and crafts were popular during the holiday seasons during this tumultuous decade in America.  Paper chains and popcorn strands were popular items on a 1940s family Christmas tree.  Cinnamon sticks were often placed with the boughs to create a fresh smell.  While real food cannot be used in the museum, our tree will feature handmade paper chains, created and donated by a dedicated volunteer, Shiny Brite brand ornaments, bell and pine shaped decorations and will be lit with the very popular bubble lights, a favorite from the 2013 holiday season.

Glitz and Glam 

Monochromatic ornaments, peacock feathers and ice covered sticks will be highlighted on this jazz-age inspired tree!  Inspired by the Art Deco age, the shiny ornaments and feathers will be sure to catch your eye.

Christmas at the Circus

A perfect tie in to our current exhibit of exquisite dollhouses and toys from the Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collection, this large tree will be covered in fanciful animals, with a focus particularly on the frivolity of a circus and all the fun it entails.

Frosty the Snowman 

This whimsical, white Christmas tree will be a favorite of our young visitors and the young at heart!  This tree will be dressed as a snowman and will be a delight to the young ones coming to play in the Kemerer Museum’s Once Upon A Treehouse interactive toy room.

Annie’s Tree

Come and see what Christmas might have looked like at the Kemerer household.  A Kemerer Museum favorite, the classic Victorian tree is back!  This tree will be decorated with donated hand beaded ornaments of years past from Kemerer volunteers, and will speak to the Victorian era of elegance that is highlighted throughout the Kemerer Museum.  Cornucopias and noise crackers, very popular during the Victorian Era, will accompany the elegance of the hand decorated ornaments.  Don’t forget to see the rest of the decorations adorning the museum from the collection of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, including Christmas cards and hand painted ornaments.

Pretty in Pearls 

Fun and frivolous, pearls and white feathers will adorn the greens of this turn of the century Christmas tree.  More traditional blown glass ornaments, silver garlands and tulle will accompany the feathers and pearls.  This tree will speak to the new style and design of the early 1900s that was brought about by the constant changes in fashion, music and culture during this twenty year period.


Moravian Museum Of Bethlehem Gemeinhaus

Apple Tree

The traditional pyramid tree of the Moravians featured apples and other simple ornaments as its decorations.  The Bethlehem Garden Club takes its own spin on the tradition adorning a contemporary Christmas tree with themes of Moravian’s cherished past.

Sounds of the Season

This tree represents the musical traditions of the Moravians.  In 1741, Count Zinzendorf, the Moravians’ benefactor, led a service of hymns and scripture to christen their new settlement Bethlehem.  Music plays a prominent role in the Moravian Church. Advent services and Lovefeasts are devoted to the congregation singing and listening to hymns performed by the choral and trombone choirs.

Pyramid Trees

On Christmas morning of 1747, the children awoke to see one large pyramid tree and two smaller pyramid trees decorated with candles, apples and Bible verses.  It was a beautiful site in the Saal of the Gemeinhaus.  Replicas of these first documented Christmas trees in America are on display in the 1741 Gemeinhaus, as well as in the newly opened for the 2014 holiday season, Single Sisters’ House.


Sisters’ House

A Sisters’ Christmas

A Moravian woman’s important skill, needlepoint, is heavily featured in the collections of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites.  This tree is inspired by the exquisite pieces in our collection and by the value that the early Moravians placed in women’s skills.  This tree will feature a quilted star tree topper and quilted skirt, snowflakes, spools and other materials used in the creation of needlepoint.


Burnside Plantation

A Wool White Christmas

A whimsical nod to farm life, this tree will feature all things to do with sheep and wool!

Christmas on the Farm

Featuring barnyard animals and other simplistic ornaments, this tree embodies Burnside Plantation.  A fun tree that will appeal to all ages, this tree will speak to Bethlehem’s only “farm in the city” and the importance that livestock and farming had to the Moravian Community.

The Bee Tree

Simply adorned, this tree will speak to the Moravian traditions of using beeswax candles, both on trees and in worship services.  Another nod to farm life, this tree highlights the importance of bees in agriculture both in the past and present.  Visit the Burnside Plantation Gift Shop for various products made from local bees, including honey and bath products!

Goundie House

Toast to the Holiday

A toast to Bethlehem’s first brew master, this tree celebrates John Sebastian Goundie.  His house, in which this tree resides, is believed to be the first brick residence in Bethlehem.  He later built a store adjacent to the family home which his daughter and son-in-law, the Schropps, ran.  Goundie’s home and the Schropp store now serve as the Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites’ Schropp Dry Goods Shoppe and exhibit space.

Additional Goundie Trees

Two other trees at Goundie will feature classics such as golden angels, ornaments and white lights, while the other will be adorned with an abundance of fruit and white lights.

We are excited to announce that November 14 will also be the opening day to the Holiday Putz Trail, a collection of Putz displays at three of our historic sites. A Putz is a traditional Moravian decoration used around Christmas time.  The word comes from the German term, which means “to decorate” or “to embellish.”  These miniature replicas depict various settings of the Nativity story through the use of ornately produced figurines, animals and building structures to recreate the holiest of scenes. Visit the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, Burnside Plantation and the newly opened Single Sister’s House to get the full Putz experience.

Visit the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, Moravian Museum of Bethlehem and the Single Sisters’ House during holiday museum hours, beginning November 14th, Thursday-Saturday from 12-5 and Sunday from 12-4. The gift shop at the Moravian Museum will be open Monday-Wednesday 12-5pm, and the Kemerer gift shop Tuesday-Wednesday 12-5pm.  Visit the 1810 Goundie House during holiday Schropp Dry Goods Shoppe hours Tuesday-Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 11-4, and beginning on November 28 for extended hours, Sunday-Wednesday 10-6:30 and Thursday-Saturday 10-8:30.  Visit Burnside Plantation every Saturday and Sunday from 12-4.

The $20 four-tour Pass Into History will get you access to the entirety of the “Trees of Christmas Past” experience, as well as the Putz trail. Children ages 4-12 are half price, ages 3 and under are free. Passes are valid for an entire year from the date of purchase. To purchase your Pass Into History visit us at or call 1-800-360-TOUR for more information.

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is a not-for-profit institution that brings to life three centuries of American history.  Historic Bethlehem tells the story of a small town of great influence, home to some of our nation’s earliest settlers, to America’s first municipal water pumping system, and to one of the world’s greatest industrial companies.  Historic Bethlehem is located in eastern Pennsylvania, only a 1.5 hour drive from Philadelphia to the North and 2 hours west of New York City.  Historic Bethlehem is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and a National Historic Landmark District.

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