Celebrating its 100 year anniversary, the Hotel Bethlehem has been a fixture in the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania historic district for even longer. Tragic events and tales from the hotel give credence to the assertion that the hotel is haunted. Proprietors of the hotel even introduce their resident ghosts by name on their official website. Let’s see what kind of specters are hiding in the historic hotel in Pennsylvania, today on Ghost to Coast.
The history of this location really starts in 1741, when Moravian Brethren, a religious organization, built the first home on the site. Several decades later, in 1794, the Moravians built a general store on the location known as the Golden Eagle. A few years after that in 1822, the first hotel would be opened in the same building, then known as The Eagle. This hotel would stand on the site for nearly 100 years before being demolished in favor of more fireproof construction. The Bethlehem Hotel Corporation would build the hotel standing today with donations and support from Bethlehem Steel and Charles. M Schwab. The Bethlehem Hotel quickly became the most luxurious accommodations available for travelers and tourists in the town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Despite the decision to build a more fireproof building in the 1920s, a fire would break out in 1989. Started by a woman’s curling iron and faulty wiring in her room, the fire grew to completely engulf the fifth floor, causing the death of four and serious injury of a further 14 guests. A few years later, the hotel would be closed with the shuttering of Bethlehem Steel, left vacant for several years, until a group banded together in the late 1990s to renovate and reopen the historic hotel.
Today, the Bethlehem Hotel is counted among the Historic Hotels of America and is very proud of its haunted status. Four ghosts are listed on the Bethlehem Hotel’s website as “residents,” and hotel guests often request haunted rooms in the establishment.
A dancer and singer, Mary Augusta Yohe, is said to haunt the grounds. Born in the Eagle hotel in 1866, Mary was the grandaughter of the hotel’s proprietor at the time. She was so talented at dancing, The Moravian’s took up a collection to send her to Paris for formal training. Not only did she learn to dance, but she married a wealthy man in England. He bestowed the Hope Diamond on her, known to be cursed, and she wore it many times. Today, she is often seen still dancing in the lobby of the Bethlehem. An apparition of her has been seen on the third floor, the lobby, and the grounds. She is said to be a kind ghost, just wanting the spotlight again. She even turns the player piano in the lobby on and off, leaving it playing for the guests of the hotel.
Francis “Daddy” Thomas is another spirit on the grounds, a former courier and cabinet maker, he found happiness working at the Bethlehem. He was respected and loved by employees and guests alike, so his passing in 1822 was a tragic affair. Thomas has been seen in the boiler room and around the lobby, still caring for guests with an afterlife hospitality. Another haunting figure, Mrs. Brong, was a former landlord of the establishment when it was owned by the Moravian Church. Her husband was a known alcoholic and thus the couple were let go from their positions as caretakers. Mrs. Bring, however, was an eccentric known for her kindness and the strange fact that she never wore stockings or shoes. Today, a shoeless woman is seen around the hotel, with some guests not even realizing her ghostly nature until she disappears before their eyes.
Finally, there’s a haunting without a name in room 932. Guests have been woken up by a man at the foot of their bed asking them why they are in his room. Mirrors sometimes show a figure standing behind the viewer in the glass, but he’s gone when they turn their head to check they’re alone in the room. The room itself is a huge draw for the hotel and any guests looking to experience some paranormal activity. Ghost hunters have captured dozens of EVPs in the room, including phrases like “I’m locked out of the bathroom,” and “look out the window.”
The Hotel Bethlehem has a history as long as the town itself, and more than a few residents who never checked out of the opulent hotel. Today, you can stay in the luxurious accommodations and see for yourself is the Bethlehem is really as haunted as they say.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.