The Moravian Archives is CLOSED to the public from July 26 to August 6

Digital Collections Spotlight #17: Nazareth Hall

Posted February 25, 2021 in Digital Access

Digital Collections Spotlight #17: Nazareth Hall

Digital Collections Spotlight #17: Nazareth Hall
By Jonathan Ennis, digital archivist

As part of an ongoing series of posts, we’re highlighting different collections and items from the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem. Check out our earlier posts in this series at https://www.moravianchurcharchives.org/digital-access/.

This interesting 19th-century lithograph is an advertisement for the Nazareth Hall School for Boys, started by the Moravians in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and provides an interesting look at the Moravian Church’s attitudes towards education during the period.

The building shown at the top of the advertisement is known as the manor house and was constructed in 1755, possibly having been designed by the architect Sigismund von Gersdorf. The original hope was that Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf would return to Pennsylvania and live in the home¹, but, as this did not happen, the ground floor was used as a chapel for the community of Nazareth and in 1759 a day school for the sons of Moravian pastors moved from Bethlehem into the building. By 1762 the school was accepting boys who were not from Moravian families in an effort to have an impact on the wider society, but it closed between 1779 and 1785 due to financial issues possibly stemming from declining enrollment during the American Revolution. Upon reopening the school was reorganized as a boarding school accepting both Moravian and non-Moravian students between the ages of 7 and 12, who were taught a revised curriculum emphasizing subjects such as math, geography and history and were required to speak English or German on alternating days.

This advertisement is from later in the school’s history, specifically 1838. It refers to the school as the “Boarding School for Young Gentlemen” and lists the quarterly fees, ranging from the tuition of $35 to optional Greek lessons for $4, and washing for $3. The description goes on to note the ages accepted, 8-13 at that point, and that applications should be sent to Reverend J. G. Herman, the principal from 1829-1837, though that name was at some point crossed out and replaced with Reverend C. A. Van Vleck, who was principal from 1837-1839, suggesting that this copy had been printed prior to 1838 and was then altered to reflect the change in leadership. The school would continue to operate and expand throughout the 19th century but would ultimately close down in 1929.

Nazareth Hall still stands and can be seen in Nazareth, Pennsylvania and may be viewed while following the walking tour of Nazareth set out in the “Moravian Walking Tour & Guidebook”, available through our Moravian History Store in person or online here: https://www.moravianhistorystore.com/product/walking-tour-guidebooks/

References:

¹ For more on Count Zinzendorf’s trip to North America, please visit our exhibit “Zinzendorf in America” at the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem. https://www.moravianchurcharchives.org/events/#tabs-2

Further Reading:

Reichel, William C. “Historical Sketch of Nazareth Hall, A Moravian Boarding School for Boys.” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 1, no. 10 (1876): 3-27. Accessed February 18, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41179752.

George E. Thomas, “Nazareth Hall, Manor House”, SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-NO20.