Our museum is now open during Tavern at the Sun Inn Restaurant and Christmas City Spirits bottle sales hours for self guided tours . See our homepage for hours.
Thank you for your continued support!
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.
Sun Inn Preservation Association (SIPA) is a 501 (c) 3 that manages and maintains the Sun Inn. Help preserve the Sun Inn. Become a member and receive discounts on the Tavern at the Sun Inn food.
MUSEUM ROOM DESCRIPTIONS
The Gaststube or “Guest Parlor”
This is the guest welcoming/departing room in which guests of the Inn would have been entertained while waiting for their room or for a coach later in the day. The room includes a large functioning fireplace, a representative table of some things you may have found on a table during the colonial period, a timeline history of the Inn, and a period clock made locally in the early 1800s.
The Colonial Kitchen
A replica of a traditional colonial hearth anchors the ambiance of this room. This is where the meals would have been prepared for its guests. The cuisine on the Inn became so well known many dignitaries would plan to stop here on there way north and south between York City (New York City) and Philadelphia. The room includes the hearth and a plethora of other period tools and artifacts you would have found around a traditional Moravian homestead.
The Colonial Kitchen
A replica of a traditional colonial hearth anchors the ambiance of this room. This is where the meals would have been prepared for its guests. The cuisine on the Inn became so well known many dignitaries would plan to stop here on there way north and south between York City (New York City) Philadelphia and destinations beyond. The room includes the hearth and a plethora of other period tools and artifacts you would have found around a traditional Moravian homestead.
The Martha Washington Suite
Dine as the first, First Lady would have in a private suite known to be located where she stayed while at the Sun Inn. The Sun Inn was the first place of lodging in the New World to have private suite. This made it very attractive to people of means to stay here and dine on the Inn’s famous cuisine in their own private space. The room is set up for you to experience where special guests would have stayed. There are two bedrooms attached to a common area. The room is finished traditionally and includes a period clock produced locally and a set of original shutters.
Home of Christmas city Spirits Bottle Sales
Originally the living quarters for the Innkeeper during the colonial period, this room has been transformed into a beautiful gallery highlighting the history of moravian distilling and the bottle sales for Christmas City Spirits.
Home of Christmas city Spirits Bottle Sales
Located behind the Innkeepers desk near the entrance, this was originally the living quarters for the Innkeeper and his family. during the colonial period, this room has been transformed into a beautiful gallery highlighting the history of distilling and the bottle sales for Christmas City Spirits.
Join the INN CROWD, Get discount at Tavern!
- 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.”
Sun Inn Preservation Association (SIPA) is a 501 (c) 3 that maintains the Sun Inn.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
September 2018 to September 2019
President: Randi Mautz
Vice President: Dave Sherman
Treasurer: Austin Recker
Secretary: Earl Kinsley
Immediate Past President: Gary Dologite
Director: Seth Cornish
Director: Scott Gordon
Director: John R. Howard
Director: Marian Kordopatis
Director: Pete Reinke
Director: Ron Ritcher
Director: Michael A. Santanasto, Esq.
Director: Jim Schantz
Director: Tom Starrett
Director: Christine Ussler
Director: MaryLou Young
Be an INN Volunteer
Join the INN CROWD