Who’s Haunting the Historic Hotel Bethlehem?

Room 932 may not be the only room with a boo at Main Street hotel.

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.

“Where’s Mary?”

“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 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.”

'Kim GhostBreakers Kowalczyk November 01, 2011 at 11:08 AM
Just to clarify our position. Although we have drawn no conclusions from our findings doesn't mean we haven't found anything. We believe the hotel IS NOT haunted but spirited and there is a big difference. People can email us through our site for an explanation of why we believe this. We continue to examine the hotel on a regular basis. The hotel has granted us exclusive unlimited access to all parts of the hotel to include those not open to the public. In return we present what we find each year at an annual hotel event each Spring for the public where guests can participate in examinations of many parts of the hotel. Thank you Tara for including us in your article. "The GhostBreakers"
Tara Zrinski November 01, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Thanks Kim, I really appreciated your participation in this article. I look forward to the Spring event and whatever "spirited" findings your group will reveal.
'Kim GhostBreakers Kowalczyk November 03, 2011 at 01:39 AM
I hope you can make the spring event and look forward to meeting you.
Tara Zrinski November 03, 2011 at 01:15 PM
I would love to come to the Spring event and be part of the ghosting experience. Can't wait to meet your group.
Jean Yerger November 04, 2011 at 10:52 PM
932 is not the only room....check into room 423....I worked there for 7 years...something strange about that room.
'Kim GhostBreakers Kowalczyk November 04, 2011 at 11:08 PM
HI Jean, My name is Kim and I am the founder of the GhostBreakers group that has been examining the Hotel Bethlehem since 2009 and have exclusive access to the hotel for researching the paranormal incidents encountered over the years. I would love the opportunity to hear the stories and incidents you may have experienced while working there. I have talked to others that worked there years ago and am very interested in all stories. If you are willing to share your experiences please contact me at GhostBreakersPa@GhostBreakers.Com Thank you, Kim
Paul Peucker December 07, 2011 at 06:28 PM
And I thought we are living in 2011 and people have an enlightened world view. Guess not. Why does Hotel Bethlehem, built in 1922 (!), have a tunnel to escape attacks by Native Americans? When was Bethlehem EVER attacked by Native Americans? Maybe on the day that Daddy Thomas and May Yohe sang a duet in the lobby of Hotel B.
'Kim GhostBreakers Kowalczyk December 07, 2011 at 07:03 PM
Sure we are living in 2011 but you can never be enlightened to the present unless you have been enlightened to the past. Survivors of a Moravian mission village massacre in Pennsylvania fled and settled just outside Bethlehem in 1755. Also in 1755 the settlement of Daniel Brodhead in what is now East Stroudsburg was attacked by 200 Indians killing many. My point being that people of the times were cautious and many places dug escape tunnels. So Indians were everywhere when the Moravian's settled on the exact spot the Hotel Bethlehem is today and people back then made escape routes from many places in Bethlehem as they did elsewhere. Nothing strange about that. The original (Eagle) hotel built on the same spot in 1796 is what had the tunnels. The collapsed tunnels still exist but do not attach to the existing Hotel Bethlehem. Since this hotel is built on the same imprint as the previous hotel, a lot of things about this one is mixed up with things that involved the other. The stories are mostly about the property anyway, which has had some sort of dwelling on it since 1741. All this hotel really is; is the old hotel being rebuilt bigger and better. So minor oversights are understandable and happen with any story when they talk about the same location even though newer buildings exist.
Tara Zrinski December 08, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Kim, thanks for answering this. More information on this can be found through the Moravian Archives as well as the Historic Bethlehem Partnership. I actually learned a lot on the Death and Dying Tour through the HBP and while interviewing Moravian Historians from the Seminary. Otto & Susan Dreydoppel are great resources through the Archives.
'Kim GhostBreakers Kowalczyk December 08, 2011 at 05:18 PM
You are quite welcome Tara. As our good luck would have it, the HBP has also offered some of their buildings, people and expertise in the history with maybe a few ghost stories for the 2012 Hotel Bethlehem's Haunted Weekend event. So people will get a little ghost hunting and history in next years event.
Megan van Ravenswaay December 08, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Tara, thank you for recommending entities such as HBP and the Moravian Archives as sources for Kim to use to research. Kim, the person that you just invited to be "enlightened by the past" is Dr. Paul Peucker, head archivist for the Moravian Archives and one of the leading authorites of Moravian history in the world. How embarassing for you. Inserting history into your ghost tours, is delightful, but you really need to check your facts. Please start by researching into the second walking purchase, hence why there were not Native Americans "everywhere" when the Moravains settled Bethlehem in 1741, look into theories of architecture in which buildings as tall as Hotel B could not be built upon the "imprint" of an 18th century structure, investigate why the missionary Moravians were in Bethlehem and lastly, please check into why educated adults do NOT use the term "Indians".
'Kim GhostBreakers Kowalczyk December 09, 2011 at 12:32 AM
As far as Megan's childish innuendo it shows how much of an adult he is. The things I mentioned are of historical record so I guess she didn't research anything. Adults don't try an belittle others nor do they poke fun at others in public forum so her innuendo of me not being an educated adult falls flat since Indian is the correct term. Native American is a politically correct term used to try and please others falsely. As for Mr. Peucker he is entitled to his opinions but not to poke fun at others. If he feels anything we wrote is historically inaccurate then help us not poke fun. I could do the same very easily but I hope I am above that. For the record, the Hotel Bethlehem has enjoyed a long standing respect and friendship with the HBP and Moravian's. Much longer than all of us have been around. This little drama is between the three of us individuals and does not reflect on the Hotel, HBP or Moravian's. My apologies to Tara for Myself, Megan and Mr. P. because I know they won't extend one. Sometimes you can't say anything without some people wanting to cause trouble. :)
Jay Trotter March 30, 2014 at 11:53 AM
Anyone know of a way to contact Miss Linda Farmer?


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