The Eagle Hotel and Hotel Bethlehem

On the same plot of land that the first house in Bethlehem was built, a general store was erected in 1894.  In 1822, the village had grown beyond its humble origins and the owners decided to remodel the store into a hotel.  Unfortunately, the original log cabin, Bethlehem’s first house, was torn down to make room for horse stables to accompany the hotel.  The hotel became known as “The Golden Eagle” due to the large mural of an eagle painted on it by Peter Grosh.  In 1874 George Myers purchased the hotel and the structure underwent another major remodel, with modern architectural conventions and a shiny white exterior.  By now colloquially known as “The Eagle”, it served as one of the two main hotels (along with the Sun Inn) in North Bethlehem and was a popular destination for travels and locals alike.

In 1919, a plan to build a new hotel to replace The Eagle was put into place, as the old structure had become outdated and was susceptible to fires.   In 1920 the old structure was torn down and the Bethlehem Hotel Corporation was founded with much of the investment from Bethlehem Steel employees like Charles Schwab. The new company bought the land from the Myers Estate for $75,000 and began work in March of 1921. The hotel reopened as the Hotel Bethlehem in 1922.  Since then, the Hotel has undergone several ownership changes (including Bethlehem Steel) and remodels, including the inclusion of historic murals painted George Gray in 1937 for the Pioneer Tap Room and an extensive historic restoration project in the late 1990s.

Sources: Crutchfield, James.  Historic Hotel Bethlehem. Franklin, Tennessee : Grandin Hood Publishers, 2013.
Hotel Bethlehem. Bethlehem, PA: Times Publishing Company, 1921.

Images of the Hotel from the 1920s, 1940s, 1970s, and Present