Haunted Nazareth: The Whitefield House
Eerie audio, moving objects and a phantom pianist have led investigators to believe child spirits may haunt the home of the Moravian Historical Society.
Near the heart of Nazareth -- at the corner of Center and New streets -- sits the Whitefield House, one of the oldest existing Moravian sites in North America and host to both the office and museum of the Moravian Historical Society.
The Whitefield House isn’t all that spooky-looking in the daylight, but when you learn that the building dates back to 1743, it’s easy to understand how it might have picked up a few apparitions along the way.
Barbara Dietterich, one of the historical society's board members, shared her knowledge about the ghosts of the Whitefield House with Patch.
“We had Katherine Ramsland and Dana DeVito visit with their equipment,” Dietterich said. “They found activity on their video.”
Ramsland and DeVito are paranormal investigators, and the authors of the book “Bethlehem Ghosts: Historical Hauntings In & Around Pennsylvania’s Christmas City.”
According to Dietterich, the investigators did indeed find activity with their equipment; shadowy video in the basement and eerie audio on the third floor, which is above the museum and used as storage.
Ramsland and DeVito were not the only investigators interested in finding ghosts at the Whitefield House. Another group visited, intent on discovering the house’s paranormal propensity.
“They placed a tennis ball on a bench in the saal [chapel], and they said they felt the presence of a little girl,” Dietterich said.
Although Dietterich was not present for this particular experiment, a former employee of the society accompanied the ghost hunters to the second-floor chapel. This employee told the museum’s docent that the tennis ball rose off the bench, bounced and rolled away, right before her eyes.
“It could make sense, because the second floor used to be a congregational nursery,” Dietterich explained.
From 1749 to 1764 the second floor of the house, which now serves as a museum, was the nursery for children of Nazareth and Bethlehem. The children not only received their education there, but also resided in the nursery.
“With children living there, and one, possibly two smallpox epidemics, there were child deaths in the Whitefield House,” Dietterich said.
In fact, one of the most notable deaths at the Whitefield House was Rebecca Burnside, daughter of the then-owners of Bethlehem’s historic Burnside Plantation.
Dietterich is a lifelong Moravian, and her family came over as Moravian missionaries. She clarified that she doesn’t necessarily believe in the ghost stories, but doesn’t want to discount anything.
“If there were any spirits, I believe they are friendly,” she said. “It’s not frightening. They’d be like family.”
Regardless of intention, the Whitefield House is just one of Nazareth’s supernatural attractions for paranormal investigators.
“A few people have said that they heard the piano playing upstairs when no one was up there,” said Megan Cassidy, the museum docent. “But I’ve never heard it.”