The Hotel Bethlehem is built on a historic site that dates back to the first Moravian settlement in 1741. Guests and staff at this historic hotel have experienced quite a few strange happenings over the years, but the hotel has officially embraced its haunted nature in recent years.
“It was not to the staff’s advantage to keep hush, hush on the ghosts,” said hotel historian Natalie Bock. “Researching the ghosts at the hotel came about as an outlet for the staff who were frightened by the stories they heard.”
Five years ago, Bock started logging in the stories and researching the archival history of the hotel. She tracked down anyone associated with the hotel, especially the “old timers” and former employees. What she found was “a resounding theme” of paranormal activity.
The Hotel promotes one room with a boo and claims at least 4 ghosts.
Guests staying in Room 932 have reported flashes in the mirror or papers flying off the table. “The most mind-boggling event was when one guest opened the bathroom and saw an entirely different bathroom for a few moments,” said Bock.
“932 is not the only haunted room, that’s the one we advertise as haunted,” said Bock, “We are very careful of the information that gets out because some people get frightened.”
Still another sighting was of a man standing at the foot of the bed in his boxers asking, “What are you doing in my bed?” The guests immediately checked out.
Room 932 took on a life of its own with all the requests from paranormal investigators and amateur ghost hunters wanting to stay in the room. It is one of the most requested rooms and the one most written about in books and blogs.
Rick Fisher, a ghost hunter with the Paranormal Society of PA, set up his equipment in room 932 and recorded hours of Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP’s.
“I’m locked in a closet.”
“Look at the view.”
Prices for Room 932 vary from $169 - $199, which includes the view and the boo.
Francis “Daddy” Thomas, a Moravian known for his highly sociable nature and delivering mail to the girl’s school, has been sighted in the boiler room, where infrared sensors have detected the movements that corroborated the reports of seeing a man in a black tricorn hat and black wool cape.
The dark figure appeared to former night engineer, Steve, and disappeared into a cloud of smoke that flew across the room. Bock said that Steve would lock himself in his office and he would see shadows moving back and forth under his door.
Bock also took me to the deepest recesses of the Boiler Room where a panel revealed a tunnel that, by now was filled in but was one used by the Moravians to escape Native American attacks. Maybe this is how Thomas gets from God’s Acre to the Hotel?
Linda Farmer, a psychic, also said that there was a man, suspected of being Thomas, checking in on all single, female travelers throughout the hotel.
Mrs. Brong and her husband were innkeepers of the Eagle Hotel for six months in 1833. The Moravians did not appreciate Mr. Brong’s excessive imbibing or Mrs. Brong’s greeting the guests with no shoes or stockings. Mrs. Brong, apparently, may still be greeting guests in her bare feet in the Mural Ballroom.
Mary “May” Yohe was the daughter of the management in the mid 1800s who danced and sang for the hotel guests in the lobby. She became famous in Paris for her operatic vocals and stage performances. Her social climb reached its height when she married Lord Francis Clinton Hope. His family owned the Hope Diamond which May displayed around her neck.
Unfortunately her social climb took a nose dive when she fell in love with an American soldier and left Hope. She became a blacklisted performer and lived, essentially, a life of poverty after her soldier boy left her. It is she who started the legend of the Hope diamond’s curse in a screenplay she wrote.
May still sings in the lounge on occasion and has made appearances in the lobby, the third floor and the exercise room. She is also believed to be the mysterious little girl seen in the windows.
Mrs. Hops a former caretaker of the Eagle Hotel from 1874 - 1919, presently guards shadows in the basement. Farmer, the psychic said she felt the presence of someone hiding others in the basement. Later through research, Bock uncovered that Mrs. Hops, was harboring slaves she brought from Virginia in the basement of the Eagle Hotel. Records from 1840-70 confirm employees listed as “negro” and “born in Virginia.”
A walk through the Hall of History in the lower lobby prominently displays the history associated with the ghosts in permanent residence and some of the interesting structural history of the building. There is a set of two doors with a unique arch leading to what was once a “speakeasy” used during prohibition and a photo of the empty Pioneer Tap Room that shows the unexplainable shadow of a man in a hat.
Bock said, “GhostBreakers tried every angle and technique to recreate the shadow but they could not.”
GhostBreakers is the paranormal “examination” team of choice for Hotel Bethlehem.
Kim Kowalczyk, a retired detective and founder of GhostBreakers, said, “I have to make it known that no clear conclusions have been made to date. We were called in to evaluate the stories about the hotel. Although we have found some clues, nothing has been found that we could form conclusions from.”
GhostBreakers has been around since 1976, and consist of a team of a retired detectives with the U.S. armed forces as well as present, former and retired police officers from the local to federal level. GhostBreakers will do another Haunted Hotel Weekend March 30 through April 1, 2012.
The Hotel now embraces its spirits. “We wanted to do things tastefully, not scare people. There are no Lizzy Bordens at the Hotel,” said Bock.
The Hotel gets at least one call per week from ghost hunting organizations offering to “free us from our ghosts,” said Bock. “We want to keep them, there is no evil spirits here.”