HISTORY OF THE SUN INN
The original inn opened in 1760 built in was a 66-by-40-foot (20-by-12 meter), two-story stone building with a mansard roof. In 1826 a third story was added with 17 new rooms. In 1866 the building was again enlarged, almost completely hiding the original inn. In 1921, interior changes were made and floors were altered, including the raising of the first floor by several feet. The Sun Inn closed to travelers in the early 1960s.
During the Revolutionary War, the Sun Inn’s significance grew as it became an important part of Bethlehem and the United States’ history. No other inn in the colonies may have welcomed so many distinguished guests: leading patriots, statesmen, five men who became U.S. President and military chieftains. The guest list includes George Washington, Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Ethan Allen, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Laurens, Richard Lee and Marquis de Lafayette.
- 1758: Moravian settlement in Bethlehem began construction of “a public house of entertainment.”
- 1760: The Sun Inn opened its doors to travelers.
- 1777: Army troops and upwards of 900 military wagons camped in the fields in the rear or north of the Sun Inn, as military stores were moved inland from advancing British troops.
- September 1777: The Continental Congress met at the Inn while moving from Philadelphia to York. At that time, most of the Army leadership was in Bethlehem, many staying at the Sun Inn.
- June 1779: Lady Martha Washington arrived at the Sun Inn on her way to Virginia.
- July 1782: General George Washington stayed at the Sun Inn.
- March 1792: The Sun Inn welcomed 51 chiefs and warriors of Six Nation Indians, including Red Jacket, The Cornplanter and Otisiquette.
- 1799: During the Fries Rebellion, an early challenge to the Federal government’s authority, 17 of Fries’ followers were held at the Sun Inn and later freed by Fries.
- July 1851: The Sun Inn was sold on behalf of the Moravians to Charles A. Luckenbach for $800.
- November 1865: During a dinner at the Sun Inn, industrialist Asa Packer announced the founding of Lehigh University in Bethlehem.
- 1921: Major interior changes were made to the Inn
- Early 1960s: The Sun Inn closes when it went out of business. In the late 1960’s when it was slated to be demolished to make way for a bank, Hughetta Bender, a community activist attended a lecture about the Sun Inn and said the building should be saved. She created the Sun Inn Preservation Association, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) charity to save the building for future generations.
- 1972: The Sun Inn Preservation Association (SIPA) was established as a nonprofit organization.
- 1975: SIPA purchases the Sun Inn, two buildings on Broad Street and a small piece of undeveloped land behind those buildings for $140,000.
- 1978: The Sun Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
- 1979: SIPA purchased the Broadhead Building just south of the Sun inn. Included was an extensive parking lot at the rear of the building.
- 1982: Sun Inn restoration completed.
- 1982 to 2016: Sun Inn hosted restaurants, ghost hunts, community events and private functions.
“We had no difficulty in finding the tavern, for it is precisely at the entrance of town. This Inn, from its external appearance and its interior accommodations, is not inferior to the best of the large inns in England, which indeed it very much resembles in every respect.”
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
September 2018 to September 2019
President: Gary Dologite
Vice President: Randi Mautz
Vice President: Dave Sherman
Treasurer: Austin Recker
Secretary: Earl Kinsley
Immediate Past President: Seth Cornish
Director: John R. Howard
Director: Marian Kordopatis
Director: Michael A. Santanasto, Esq.
Director: Tom Starrett
Director: Christine Ussler
Director: MaryLou Young
Director: Evan Burkhart
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