601 South 4th street
Emmaus, PA 18039
shelter house society
Emmaus, PA 18049
By appointment with resident curator, Dean Bortz at 610-965-9258
Jane Maulfair, President
Our board always provides home-baked cookies and hot cider/lemonade for the Christmas amd summer events.We have no kitchen facilities.
The Shelter House is located on the north face of South Mountain where three streams converge. We are nestled in a clearing of woods made up of old hard-wood growth. Built in around 1734 by early Pennsylvania Colonial German settlers,The Shelter House is considered the oldest continually inhabited dwelling in the Lehigh Valley. We open the house to visitors during the Christmas celebrations held in the village of Emmaus, during the summer festivals with two other historic houses, and for an annual membership outdoor picnic. Because our house is now owned by the Borough of Emmaus, it is considered a public park. We are often the subject of photographers and artists who find the structure stunning in any light and in any season. Our visitors tell us that ours is a sylvan wooded spot where they can envision earlier times when one could hear with clarity the breeze, birds, and streams. And in all of this, sits the shelter house whose German name is zufluchtshaus (a house of refuge or shelter). Our house was inhabited when conflicts in the area could have been with the British or the Native Americans. In the nearby village,later to become Emmaus, Moravians from Bethlehem., PA were forming frontier outposts in the area. All of this history and more is included in our group tours of The Shelter House.
The Shelter House Society was formed in the 1950's by Senator Henry Snyder of Pennylvania and several businessmen from Emmaus. The structure was about to collapse when these men came to the rescue. Since then, The Society has grown to about 170 members, whose support covers our costs to serve the public. We have over the years received charitable contributions which keep us able to repair the building after the appropriate historic preservation guidelines and to keep our historic doors open to the public and especially school and scout groups.
Books from the collection of Sen. Snyder and earlier residents of The Shelter House. We also have period (and not so period) furniture throughout the rooms. Our board meets quarterly in the great room of The Shelter House.
Our resident curator offers educational tours for school groups; we record how many visitation we have annually. Because we are small and have never been asked to provide any of our historic collections or services to other groups, we have no current policy.
The Shelter House Society is membership driven and governed by a board of directors including secretary, financial secretary, treasurer, and various standing committees,such as archival and historical.
Access: General Public
Appointment required: Yes
The Shelter House Society publishes once a year The Hearthstone, which contains articles about historic topics, personality profiles, history of The Shelter House and the area, our annual report and the current membership list. On occasion, we publish excerpts from old editions of The Hearthstone. No schedule.
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