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Burnside Plantation

This historic 6.5-acre farm-in-the-city, Burnside Plantation, opened doors to early American agricultural life. The property includes a restored 1748/1818 farmhouse, two 1840s bank barns, a large kitchen garden and orchard, a corn crib, and wagon shed. Also, the site includes one of the only remaining working High Horse-Power wheels in the U.S. Burnside Plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Located along Monocacy Creek and surrounded by shade trees, Burnside is home to HBMS’ annual summer Blueberry Festival and autumn Apple Days event. It’s the ideal, peaceful, and scenic spot for families to get away and enjoy.

Burnside and Historic Bethlehem were featured on the popular cooking show, “A Taste of History,” with chef and restauranteur Walter Staib. Staib pulled and munched on fresh veggies from the Colonial Garden, cooked in Burnside’s 18th-century Moravian summer kitchen and at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem with Executive Chef Michael Adams.

Discover these amazing Burnside sites

Farmhouse (1748/1818)

The farmhouse was built by James and Mary Burnside in 1748. From 1760-1765, Johann Gottlob Klemm and David Tannenberg crafted organs here. The addition of a beehive oven on the west wall of the kitchen is believed to have been used in the process of curing the wood for the organs.

Summer Kitchen (1825)

The Summer Kitchen was added so the heat of cooking would not warm the farmhouse during the summer months. Today, the kitchen is a center for Colonial culinary experiences during festivals and special events.


The apple orchard produced tasty fruit for the Moravians. They made pies, apple butter, cider, and schnitz or dried apples. The orchard contains four types of heritage apple trees: Newton Pippin, Rhode Island Greening, Roxbury Russet, and Esopus Spitzenburg. Today, the orchard, along with the rest of Burnside Plantation, is the site of Historic Bethlehem’s annual Apple Days.

Louise W. Dimmick Garden

This garden is a representation of an early American Kitchen Garden. Named for a dedicated volunteer, this kitchen garden holds herbs, spices, flowers, and vegetables. The garden is cared for by volunteers each season.

The Louise W. Dimmick Memorial Garden has received a Blue Ribbon in the 2021 and 2020 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gardening Contest and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Community Greening Award in 2008.

Corn Crib & Wagon Shed

It is believed the corn crib and wagon shed were built in the mid-1800s.

Johnson Barn

The Johnson Barn, a bank barn typical of the mid-19th century, was built to increase storage. Farmers would drive their grain wagons up the ramp, or bank, to the threshing floor. On the lower level was a stable.


During the 1800s, horses, cows, and other animals, usually penned in the stable, could roam freely here. Farmers composted manure, spreading it on farm fields before plowing in the spring and fall to amend the soil.

High Horse Powered Wheel

With this ingenious machine one horse could do the work of 15 men. The restored High Horse-Powered Wheel is now a teaching tool used to demonstrate historic agricultural production practices.

Watch the High Horse-Powered Wheel Turn

Haas Barn

The Haas Barn is a smaller example of a mid-1800s bank barn. Today, it is used as a children’s activity center for Historic Bethlehem Museum & Sites.

Marian Way

On September 26, 2020, we were proud to name the gravel path that runs through Burnside Plantation “Marian Way” in honor of longtime volunteer, Marian Lee. Marian Lee has been part of the effort to preserve and restore this historic site since its incorporation in the mid-1980s as a dedicated crafter, gardener, volunteer coordinator, and head of the Burnside Crafters.

Road to Nain

This road followed the southern boundary of Burnside’s land. In 1757, the Moravians and Native American converts began construction of the village of Nain located just east of Burnside Plantation. The last remaining structure, the Nain-Schober House, was built in 1758, moved to Bethlehem in 1765, and restored in 2012. Today, it is part of the Moravian Museum.

Who Lived Here?

James and Mary Burnside

James Burnside, originally from County Meath, Ireland, traveled to Georgia, and in two years suffered much tragedy – two devastating fires and the death of his first wife. He befriended a member of the Moravian Church in Georgia and came north eventually becoming a Moravian missionary. In 1745, he married Mary Wendover, a Moravian widow from the Moravian congregation in New York. His daughter Rebecca died at the age of six of smallpox in 1746.

In 1747, James and Mary Burnside decided to not follow the choir system of Moravian Bethlehem and purchased 500 acres just north of the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem. Their farm, Burnside Plantation, was the first privately held property in the settlement and first private home. In 1752, James was elected as the first representative to the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from the newly formed Northampton County. He was a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin serving with him on the Committee for Indian Affairs. Three years after his death, Mary sold the farm to the Moravian Church, and it became Plantation #4 in the Moravian farming system. Three Moravian plantations were located in what is now South Bethlehem.

The Moravian use of the word plantation stems from a German word meaning “plantings.” A Moravian plantation was a working farm that produced crops for the entire community. There were four large Moravian farms in Bethlehem including Burnside Plantation. We know that these farms were very different than a plantation in the southern United States. There were no slaves listed in James Burnside’s will.

Johann Gottlob Klemm and David Tannenburg

In 1760, the farm became home to two preeminent Moravian organ builders, Johann Gottlob Klemm and David Tannenburg. For five years they built organs here in the German style. 20th century organ builders believe that the second beehive oven in the farmhouse kitchen was installed to cure the wood for the organ pipes. Tannenburg went on to become the foremost 18th century American organ builder making 50 organs known nationally and internationally for their sound and craftsmanship.

In the early 1800s, the Hillman family petitioned the Moravian leaders to enlarge the house to accommodate their larger family. The house on the farm today is called the 1748-1818 Farmhouse.

Operated as a farm by tenant farmers until the end of the Moravian lease system, in 1848, the land was sold to Charles Luckenbach who also purchased much of the property of the other Bethlehem Moravian plantations for future development. Over the years, parts of the Burnside property were sold off for development until only 6.5 acres remained.


Become a volunteer gardener at the Burnside Plantation Colonial Garden! 

As a volunteer gardener, you will adopt a plot in the colonial garden. Everything is grown organically, as it would have been during the colonial period. Plants, seeds, and compost are provided by the Plantation at no cost to gardeners.

Experience the way the colonials gardened by volunteering your green thumb at Burnside Plantation.

All levels of gardeners are welcome!

Call 1-800-360-TOUR for more information.

Honoring Marian Lee

On September 26, 2020, HBMS was proud to honor long-time volunteer Marian Lee by naming the gravel path at Burnside Plantation “Marian Way.” HBMS President Charlene Donchez Mowers and board member Barbara Hollenbach speak to Marian’s commitment to Burnside Plantation in the video to the left.

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