1742-1745, First Girl’s Boarding School in the Country.

Count Zinzendorf’s daughter, Countess Benigna alongside a few others opens a girl’s seminary school in Germantown, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1742 with twenty-five girls in attendance.  After a few years of moving the school around in the Bethlehem area, including the Whitefield House in Nazareth from 1745-1749, the school finds a permanent home in the “Bell House” on January 6, 1749.   The initial attendance included sixteen girls with four Moravian sisters as teachers.  By 1757 there were eighty-nine pupils.  In 1785, Benigna, now Countess Benigna de Watteville, helped reorganize the school into the Bethlehem Female Seminary, and the school opened to students from outside the Moravian Church.


Sources: Levering, Joseph M. A History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 1741-1892. Times Publishing: Bethlehem, 1903. Schwarz, Ralph G. Bethlehem on the Lehigh. Bethlehem Area Foundation: Bethlehem, PA, 1991.

Bell House in May of 1944
PA Historic Marker for the Bell House.
Benigna von Watteville (Zinzendorf)