View House & Garden Tour rooms return to Bethlehem

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

This year, the nonprofit is drawing inspiration from decades of touring for its review edition highlighting the history, beauty, and innovation of homes and gardens in the Lehigh Valley.

The weekend begins with a preview party, 6-9pm on June 10, at John and Susan Blair’s home in Lower Sakon. Guests will enjoy an outdoor oasis at the back of the house, which includes an outdoor kitchen, spa, saltwater pool with fountains, and pool house, along with a custom-made golf green.

The festivities will include Temple Avenue jazz and heavy appetizers prepared by Karen Hunter from Sayre Palace.

The annual House View Rooms’ 30th tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 11, will feature self-guided tours of more than a dozen scenic accommodations. Individuals can explore beautiful interiors and gorgeous outdoor spaces, including lush lawns, flowering gardens, and tranquil ponds.

Private gardens include Elias Garden in Bethlehem, which includes a garden of perennial and native plants as well as herb and vegetable gardens. Visitors can also partake in English tea and scones while the kids search a maze for hidden surprises.

Also in Bethlehem, Ron and Sharon Donchise’s garden spans nearly an acre and derives its influence from the contract of a married couple living abroad. Rare plants, unique pruning techniques, and sculptures add a distinctive feel to this collector’s garden.

In addition to visiting the lush gardens, tour guests will have the opportunity to enter homes of historical interest. Among these restored and restored Victorian properties by owner Shafer Construction can be traced back to 1892 when it was one of the first homes in the Bethlehem Heights subdivision. See the award-winning historic addition featuring a Victorian tower, stained glass windows, and a witch’s hat roof.

Other historic structures on the tour include the historic Archibald Johnston Mansion and the guard accompanying the Keys Estate. Tour guests can climb across the threshold into the 17-room mansion where Archibald Johnston, president of the Bethlehem Steel Company and first mayor of the Bethlehem neighborhoods it joined, and his family held lavish dinners and parties. The Keeper of the Keys Estate was the childhood home of Elizabeth Johnston Prime, granddaughter of Archibald, best known for her collection of dollhouses, housed in the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts in Bethlehem.

The tour does not stop at the historical spaces but continues on the updated and contemporary interiors as well. Guests will have the opportunity to peruse Floyd Simons Armory, recently developed into modern apartments that highlight the historic features of the original building, including steel trusses.

Likewise, structural elements old and new come together at 30 E. Wall Street, where New York-based Studio Superette—founded by a former Moravian Academy student—created an open plan living while celebrating the historic character of a late-19th-century brick house.

After the tour, visitors are invited to enjoy wine and cheese in the beautifully designed gardens of the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts in Bethlehem, 427 N. New St. Glimpse Through Glass Gallery, which displays glass pieces from the HBMS Collection and six private collections, along with contemporary artworks on loan from seven regional glass artists and a glowing glass gallery featuring a display of rare uranium glassware.

In honor of Rooms to View’s 30th anniversary, HBMS will provide tour guests with access to an online video collection of the 2020 and 2021 Rooms to View tours – over three hours of video content, including home tours, homeowner interviews, galleries and video demonstrations .

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

%d bloggers like this: