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1761 Tannery

The Tannery was constructed in 1761 in the Colonial Industrial Quarter to tan hides into leather. It was built next to the butchery, but today it is an archeological site. Moravian tanners produced about 3,000 hides a year for use by the community and as a product to raise funds to support the community.

Here the craftsmen created a variety of leather goods such as shoes, boots, saddles, harnesses, fire buckets, and machinery parts. The Monocacy creek was used as a washing station for cleaning the hides.

Making hides into leather was a lengthy and labor-intensive process that could take up to two years from a raw hide to leather product. It involved many steps including rinsing the hides in the Monocacy Creek and soaking them in tannic acid in wooden vats inside the Tannery.

Although the Moravian Church sold the tannery and its operations in 1830, tanning continued until the building was converted into a multi-family residence in 1873. The building was restored 1968-71, and an archaeological report, pieces of the original vats, and tools are in the Historic Bethlehem collection.

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