Rooms to View House & Garden Tour returns to Bethlehem

For 30 years, the Rooms to View House & Garden Tour has been Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites’ (HBMS) premier spring fundraiser.

This year, the nonprofit organization draws inspiration from decades of touring for a stunning edition that highlights the history, beauty and innovation of homes and gardens in the Lehigh Valley.

The weekend kicks off with a preview party on June 10 from 6pm to 9pm at John and Susan Blair’s home in Lower Saucon Township. Guests will enjoy an outdoor oasis at the back of the home that includes an outdoor kitchen, spa, saltwater pool with fountain and pool house, and custom-designed golf course.

Celebrations include music by Temple Avenue Jazz and heavy hors d’oeuvres prepared by catering by Karen Hunter of the Sayre Mansion.

The 30th Annual Rooms to View House Tour, taking place June 11 from 10:00am to 4:00pm, features self-guided tours of more than a dozen scenic properties. Individuals can explore beautifully designed interiors and awe-inspiring exteriors, including verdant lawns, lush gardens, and tranquil ponds.

Private gardens include Elias Garden in Bethlehem, which features a garden of perennials, native plants, herb and vegetable gardens. Visitors can also enjoy English tea and scones while children search for hidden surprises in a maze.

Also in Bethlehem, Ron and Sharon Donchez’s garden spans almost an acre and is influenced by the couple’s decade of living abroad. Rare plants, unique pruning techniques and sculptures give this collector’s garden a distinctive flair.

In addition to visiting lush gardens, tour guests have the opportunity to enter homes of historical importance. Among these, a Victorian property renovated and restored by the owner of Shafer Construction can be traced back to 1892 when it was one of the first houses in the Bethlehem Heights Subdivision. Check out the award-winning historic addition with a Victorian tower, stained glass windows and witch’s hat roof.

Other historic buildings on the tour include the historic Archibald Johnston Mansion and the accompanying Keeper of the Keys Estate. Tour guests can step through the threshold into the 17-room mansion where Archibald Johnston, a president of the Bethlehem Steel Company and first mayor of the merged boroughs of Bethlehem, and his family hosted lavish dinners and parties. The Keeper of the Keys Estate was the childhood home of Elizabeth Johnston Prime, Archibald’s granddaughter, best known for her dollhouse collection which is housed in the Kemer Museum of Decorative Arts in Bethlehem.

The tour doesn’t stop at historical locations but also leads to updated and contemporary interiors. Guests have the opportunity to tour the Floyd Simons Armory, which has recently been converted into modern apartments that highlight historical features of the original building, including steel beams.

Similarly, old and new structural elements come together at 30 E. Wall Street, where New York firm Studio Superette — founded by a former Moravian Academy student — created open living while preserving the historic character of the late 19th-century brick home. century celebrated.

After the tour, visitors are invited to enjoy wine and cheese in the beautifully landscaped gardens of the historic Kemer Museum of Decorative Arts at Bethlehem, 427 N. New St. During their stay at the museum, they will also have the opportunity to explore the new A Glimpse Through Glass exhibition, featuring glass artifacts from the HBMS collection and six private collections, as well as contemporary artwork loans from seven regional glass artists and a luminous glass gallery featuring a display of rare uranium glass artifacts.

In honor of Rooms to View’s 30th anniversary, HBMS is offering tour guests access to the online collection of videos from the 2020 and 2021 Rooms to View tours – over three hours of video content including home tours, homeowner interviews, exhibits and video demonstrations.

Tickets for the Preview Party and House & Garden Tour are $125, while tickets for just the House & Garden Tour are $30 for HBMS members and $40 for non-members. Proceeds from ticket sales, available online at, help Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites preserve 20 historic landmarks in Bethlehem.

Leave a Comment