134 South Main Street
Nazareth, PA 18064


"The Barony of the Rose"

In the late spring of 1740, a weary group of Moravian missionaries from Georgia arrived in Pennsylvania as "working guests" of Methodist evangelist George Whitefield, a British cleric conducting his own missionary work in the New World. Sailing to Philadelphia in Whitefield's sloop, The Savannah, the Moravians were looking for a new place to pursue their missionary activities.

In Georgia they had experienced great hostility from neighbors and government officials who looked askance at their pacifism and their friendliness with local Cherokees and enslaved African-Americans.

Whitefield hired the Moravians to construct a school on land he owned in Nazareth, where he intended to educate orphan children of slaves. But the relationship was short lived.

Nazareth Borough

A serious argument with Whitefield over religious doctrine caused the Moravians to leave Nazareth and establish the nearby town of Bethlehem. Ironically, when Whitefield fell on hard times, the prosperous Moravians bought Nazareth from him. The original structure there, still called Whitefield House, served their community through the centuries as a place of worship, a boarding school for Moravian girls, a nursery for the children of missionaries, and as the Moravian Theological Seminary.

Nazareth and Bethlehem had much in common. Both communities operated under a communal economic system that made it economically possible for many Moravians to engage in educational and missionary efforts. Efficient organizers, the Moravians coordinated Bethlehem and its surrounding regions, including Nazareth, into a large unit called the Oeconomy. Craftsmen in Bethlehem supplied the communities with blacksmith services, a tannery, and other related necessities. Nazareth became the "breadbasket," as its farms proved more fruitful than Bethlehem's.

Though their neighbors were often suspicious of this strange band of Germans and downright hostile when the pacifist Moravians refused to bear arms in the colonial war against the Indians and French on the frontier, the Moravians of Nazareth strove to spread their gospel among their Native American, English, and German neighbors. They soon abandoned the effort to bring all German Protestants under their spiritual guidance, but continued to devote a great deal of time and energy to reach the Lenape.

One reason for their success in spreading the gospel among native communities in New York, Ohio, and the Carolinas was their ability to communicate with the Indians in their own languages. Moravian missionaries spent years learning and then translating parts of the Bible in native dialects. "It is not land that we are after," one missionary to New York wrote, "unlike the ministers who travel through wilds occasionally. We came to learn their language and as soon as we were sufficiently advanced we wished to bring them the words of the creator." Missionary David Zeisburger worked with the Delaware in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, converting many to Christianity.

Though the original Moravians who arrived in Nazareth with George Whitefield found their welcome short-lived, their persevering Brothers, Sisters, and descendants built a successful town there. Today, Whitefield's three-and-a-half story limestone building houses the Moravian Historical Society. Open to the public, the Whitefield House contains a large collection of Moravian instruments, textiles and clothing, household goods, Native American artifacts, and paintings by John Valentine Haidt (1700-1780), whose religious canvasses and portraits were used by Moravians as visual aids to their ministry.

Pennsylvania Dutch Settlements
Up until the mid 1900's, a large part of the native population was of German origin, better known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. "Dutch" was a corruption of the word "Deutsch", which is the original German word for the English word "German." The Pennsylvania Dutch were spread throughout many counties of southern and central Pennsylvania. In addition to Pennsylvania Dutch from Germany, many also came from Switzerland and the Alsace, which is now part of France. Thus Pennsylvania Dutch, the term, includes residents which historically lived near the "German" origin Pennsylvania Dutch of Germany, in both France and Switzerland, whose borders over time had been traded around to be included in one country and then another, and the Pennsylvania Dutch were not then technically JUST from Germany, although they did share common bloodlines and ancestries, living in close locale. Pennsylvania Dutch might more properly include one area of European origin, rather than one specific country of Europe, as the borders were given to vary over the centuries.

Religious diversity of 1900s
Nazareth's residents' religion reflected a largely German background in evangelical churches of fairly large sizes for such a small town, divided among the Moravian, Lutheran, Reformed (now part of the United Church of Christ), and Roman Catholic worship centers of the town. The town also hosted a fairly sizable Italian and Polish population, which largely attended the Catholic Church in the area. Strong religious partisanship was largely a reflection of the seriousness with which the Pennsylvania Dutch took their faith, while only differing in seemingly minor points from each other, at least compared to a more worldwide view of religions and their differences.

Construction boom
During a great immigration to the eastern Pennsylvania counties of the late 1900's from New Jersey and New York, the population expanded significantly. Developers from the New Jersey area were responding to tighter controls and regulations on new construction in the state of New Jersey by moving their enterprises to Pennsylvania.

This new expansion and housing boom was enabled by the local completion of the interstate system of highways, first begun by former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950's. In the Nazareth area, this was caused by the completion of the nearby Pennsylvania Route 33, which ran north and south, thereby connecting Interstate 78, U.S Route 22, and Interstate 80 (all of which ran east-west), and the completion of the Interstate 78 southern Lehigh Valley corridor high speed interstate, which connected the Lehigh Valley to New Jersey and New York to the east, and Harrisburg and Pittsburgh to the west.

The Nazareth Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Business & Industry

Martin Guitar
Nazareth is the global headquarters for C.F. Martin & Company, which manufactures Martin guitars. Martin guitars are handmade instruments that once were made by artisans who apprenticed for years to learn their trade. Now, Martin Guitars are made largely on an assembly line monitored and assisted by workers, computers, and lasers. Assembly lines at Martin were instituted to lower costs, improve speed of production, and compete with foreign manufacturers, without which efforts it is said that the company would have ceased to survive.

Cement manufacturing
In the 1960's, at least three large cement companies surrounded the Nazareth borough area, Essroc (formally Coplay Cement), Hercules Cement, and Penn-Dixie Cement Companies. The Coplay plant on the southside has undergone company ownership changes through the years (and was also known as the Nazareth Cement Company, among other names). Hundreds of union laborers of the United Gypsum, Lime and Cement Unions worked in each plant around the town from the early 1900's. Every summer, lucky college students were hired for well paying labor jobs as summer help.

Stories of the hard pre-union days at the cement plants are replete with the description of twelve hour days for survival wages, poor working and health conditions, and many dangerous incidents and accidents causing loss of life and or limb without medical plans or benefits to survivors. Since the 1980s, however, the automation of the plants and eventual reselling of them to foreign firms has brought about the loss of most of the high-paying union cement jobs, presenting a blow to the Lehigh Valley economy. The impact on the local economy of these lost cement jobs was intensified by the ultimate closing of neighboring Bethlehem Steel in 2003. In the case of Bethlehem Steel, it was not automation and modernization that downsized the workforce, but failure to modernize the mills, overloaded management, and a laissez-faire management attitude about foreign competition and cheap foreign steel production.


Historical population

% +/-
1860 781 ---
1870 949 21.5%
1880 984 3.7%
1890 1,318 33.9%
1900 2,304 74.8%
1910 3,978 72.7%
1920 4,288 7.8%
1930 5,505 28.4%
1940 5,721 3.9%
1950 5,830 1.9%
1960 6,209 6.5%
1970 5,815 -6.3%
1980 5,443 -6.4%
1990 5,713 5.0%
2000 6,023 5.4%
2010 5,746 -4.6%
2012 5,721 -0.4%

As of the census of 2000 there were 6,023 people, 2,560 households, and 1,515 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,603.8 people per square mile (1,392.5/km²). There were 2,658 housing units at an average density of 1,590.4 per square mile (614.5/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 98.46% White, 0.55% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 0.28% from other races, and 0.23% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.95% of the population.

There were 2,560 households out of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.8% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.89.

Nazareth's population is spread out with 20.2% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 24.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.7 males.

As of the 2000 census, the median income for a household in the borough was $39,038, and the median income for a family was $50,298. Males had a median income of $35,642 versus $24,900 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $21,292. About 4.2% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.

In 1900, 2,304 people lived there, and in 1910, 3,978 inhabitants existed; 5,721 people lived in Nazareth in 1940. Its population was 6,023 at the 2000 census.


Nazareth is located at 40°44'24"N 75°18'40"W (40.739993, -75.311214).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.7 square miles
(4.4 km²), all of it land.

Nazareth's climate is similar to the rest of the Lehigh Valley, with four distinct seasons, humid summers, cold winters, and very short and mild springs and falls. Nazareth's topography can best be described as hilly, as the town itself sits atop a local outcropping underground of one of the richest veins of limestone in the U.S. Farmland surrounding Nazareth is quickly being devoured and turned into close sitting lots of suburban housing.

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