Nazareth 275th Anniversary Historical Snippets
From the History Committee
1. From its founding in 1740 until 1856 Nazareth was a closed Moravian community, meaning that no one who was not a member of the Moravian religious denomination could live within the boundaries of Nazareth.
2. “New Nazareth,” consisting of Center Square, Main and Center Streets, was laid out in 1771. It was called “New Nazareth” to differentiate it from “Old Nazareth,” a farm with its associated dwelling and trade buildings located south of the Whitefield House.
3. Early Nazareth was a communal settlement. The residents, all members of the Moravian religion, did not live in family units, but rather in groups: unmarried men (Single Brothers), unmarried women (Single Sisters and Widows), children. Even married couples did not always live together in the early days of the community.
4. Snow started falling on Friday, February 11, 1983, and continued into the next day. By the time it stopped, Nazareth had accumulated 26 inches of snow, one of the snowiest storms ever in Nazareth’s history.
5. In 1907 Nazareth had its own pretzel bakery at 17 West Center St., owned and operated by Charles Clewell. His son, Eschor, continued the business into the 1930s.
6. The residents of the “Irish Settlement,” near what is now Bath, were English-speaking, Calvinist settlers, and they did not get along with the German-speaking Moravians, frequently complaining about them to the local authorities.
7. On March 18, 1929 the Nazareth Chamber of Commerce was organized, adopting the borough slogan “Where progress and prosperity are cemented.” One of its first projects was to build Nazareth’s first band shell.
8. The house at 135 S. Main St., built around 1840, was originally the home of Josiah O. Beitel, well-known clock-maker and jeweler. His shop was next door. The protruding window was to display his merchandise.
9. The first C. F. Martin factory in Pennsylvania was located across from the Cherry Hill Hotel because, as a non-Moravian, C. F. Martin could not buy property in Nazareth. In 1857, he was among the first non-Moravians to purchase land in Nazareth, an entire block on North Main St.
10. Before LANTA people traveled on the Bethlehem and Nazareth Passenger Railway Company and the Nazareth Transit Company, which operated electric railways, or trolleys, beginning in 1899.
11. St. John’s Lutheran Church and St. John’s UCC were originally one union congregation of Lutheran and Reformed, which worshipped together from 1859 until the congregations separated in 1905.
12. The Nazareth Borough Directory of 1860 listed a tinsmith, carriage and coach builder, millinery, “segar dealer,” tobacconist, and wine and liquor dealer, among many other businesses.
13. The Nazareth Item newspaper was published weekly from 1891 through 1976, with its office and presses at 46 S. Main Street.
14. Electricity was introduced in Nazareth Borough in 1893, but only at night. Twenty-four hour service came in 1900, when meters were installed in homes to determine the charge for the electrical current used.
15. From 1887 into the 1950s the Nazareth Waist Mill, at Belvidere and S. Whitfield Streets, manufactured children’s knit underwear. The “waist” was a foundation garment, and the ones made in Nazareth were sold worldwide.
16. As early as 1796 there was a “Musical Society of Nazareth.” In 1845 they performed Haydn’s oratorio Creation.
17. On March 29, 1970, Easter Sunday was celebrated with a major snowstorm, surprising worshippers at early sunrise services and causing many church-goers to abandon their cars and walk home.
18. Since the mid-1980s members of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church have celebrated Palm Sunday by walking from their church to Center Square, leading a live donkey, in commemoration of the original Palm Sunday.
19. On March 30, 1857, the Moravian Historical Society was organized in Nazareth, with James Henry of Boulton as the founding President.
20. Before “talkies” came to Nazareth in 1930, silent movies were accompanied by live piano music, which was provided by Anna Ziegler, Charles Hess, Lena Hagenbuch, and others.
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22. Beethoven’s First Symphony was performed in Nazareth in 1813, the second public symphony performance of this piece in America.
23. For the first few years after its founding in 1762, the Schoeneck church was an affiliate congregation of the Nazareth Moravian Church, and its members attended services on major festivals in Nazareth.
24. In some communities, including Nazareth, Moravians walk around town playing brass instruments during the night before Easter, to awaken residents for the sunrise service. The Moravian brass choir in Nazareth has been doing this annually since 1786. Listen for them tonight!
25. The first Easter sunrise service in Nazareth was held at the Indian Graveyard on April 14, 1754. The residents gathered at 4:30 a.m. and walked to the cemetery.
26. Early Nazareth was a part of Bucks County until 1752, when Northampton County was created.
27. On April 7, 1938, a group of Nazareth merchants met to agree on a schedule of holidays and store hours. The group formally became the Nazareth Merchants Association.
28. Much of the Borough of Nazareth is part of the federally-designated Nazareth Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district contains over 500 structures, both residential and commercial, built between 1740 and 1938.
29. Famous Nazareth resident: Barbara Troxell, opera singer. A soprano, she was born in Nazareth. Her career included performances at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera, and solo recordings of Mozart.
30. When the first cement mill (Phoenix) was built and opened at the “west end” of Nazareth around 1900, the village of Phoenix developed to house the workers. In December of 1948 the village was annexed into Nazareth Borough.
31. From 1948 – 1950 Nazareth’s pro baseball team was called the Nazareth Barons . Attendance steadily declined over those years, and in the 1950 season, the team finished last in the North Atlantic League. Thus ended professional baseball in Nazareth.
32. On April 12, 1745, the Moravian apple orchard in Nazareth was surveyed. It was located south of the “stone house” (the Whitefield House). “Orchard Street,” the alley just south of the Whitefield House, was named in its memory.
33. In the late 1940s and early ‘50s there were many restaurants and places for teens to meet after school in Nazareth: Hommer’s Restaurant (which later became Carldon’s), Sam’s, Heckman’s Drug Store & Soda Fountain, J&M’s, Swavely’s Fountain, and Nicholsen’s.
34. The Martin D-35 guitar, introduced in 1965, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2015. With its distinctive 3-piece back, the D-35 has helped to conserve precious rosewood by utilizing smaller pieces that would otherwise be discarded.
35. Many years ago, in the 1940 s, the Nazareth merchants association decided to close the downtown Nazareth stores on Wednesday afternoons because they were open all day on Saturdays. The stores also closed from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on Good Friday.
36. Friedensthal (“Valley of Peace”) was a small Moravian mill and community located just north of Nazareth where the Buzzi Unicem (Hercules) quarry is now. The sign for the street named in honor of the community was recently misspelled as Friedenstahl (“free steel” in German).
37. During WWII word would spread up and down Main Street when a shipment of sugar or laundry soap had arrived, and women would grab their ration books and run down South Main Street to the Acme.
38. “Ye Olde Tory Prison,” a coffee house sponsored by the Nazareth Ministerium for teens and young adults, opened in the basement of the Nazareth Inn (now Nazareth Furniture) in 1968.
39. The Nazareth News Agency at 143 S. Main Street (later at 60 S. Main) was the place to go on Sunday morning, to pick up your newspaper and chat with neighbors and friends. You could also pick up daily newspapers and magazines there.
40. From around 1900 to 1913, there were eight large greenhouses on Wood Street on Nazareth’s west end. Because dust from the new cement mills coated the windows, blocking the sunlight, the business abruptly closed.
41. Before moving out of Nazareth, gun-maker William Henry, Jr. would frequently test the construction of a new piece by going outside next to his shop on S. Main St. and firing the gun with a triple charge of powder. The neighbors frequently complained to the authorities about the noise.
42. “I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead. . .” With that line, Robbie Robertson began The Weight, a song recorded in 1968 by The Band. He used “Nazareth” when he saw the label inside his Martin guitar as he was writing the song.
43. The Army Navy Store and Nazareth Hardware, both in the first block of S. Main St., are the two oldest surviving Main Street businesses, although each has changed owners several times. Both date from the early 1940s.
44. The Manor House on W. Center Street was erected for Count Zinzendorf, the patron of the Moravians, in 1755 and 1756. The deed to the Nazareth property conveyed the rights of an English barony, so the Moravians built a house for him in Nazareth.
45. In the 1930s Nazareth had two movie theaters, the Royal Theater at 106 South Main St. and the Broad Street Theater at 28 S. Broad St. You could also watch movies on Saturday afternoon in the Nazareth Y’s auditorium.
46. Once upon a time, in the late 1930s and early ‘40s, the Nazareth Inn offered fine dining in the second floor dining room on Sundays, with linen tablecloths and napkins and crystal glassware. Now the building is the Nazareth Furniture Store.
47. In the early 20th century Nazareth saw the founding of two banks. The Nazareth National Bank was founded in 1897, and the Second National Bank of Nazareth was founded in 1901. Both institutions still exist, but under names that no longer include “Nazareth.”
48. Famous Nazareth Resident: Actress Kate Micucci, Nazareth Class of 1998, seen on television and as part of the musical duo Garfunkel and Oates.
49. Holy Family school and gym were blessed and dedicated on April 29, 1956. A second floor was added to the school in 1985, thanks in part to a large contribution from the Andretti family.