Disclaimer: I do not promote trespassing on grounds that is off limits to the public. If you wish to visit an abandoned place, for your safety, please reach out to the property owners to gain access. If you don’t, I am not held accountable for the fines or injuries that may occur.
Bethlehem, PA has a lot of abandoned gems, from Bethlehem Steel buildings to theaters, there are plenty in plain site. However, a lot of these sites are not easy to get access too or have security on them 24/7. If you are patient enough though, maybe you’ll get access to one of these sites because for the most part the city of Bethlehem hopes to revive their history. The best way to do that, have the general public visit the site to gain interest and educate them in hopes someone wants to help revive the site. That’s exactly what happened on February 17th for the well known Archibald Johnston Mansion. The process to gain access didn’t go over well for the community, but there is good reason why this had to be a limited engagement. The property’s parking lot wouldn’t be able to handle the thousands of interested citizens, but worse yet, the structure of the building would most definitely not be able to handle the thousands of people walking through the mansion. Many people were left upset not being able to view the inside of the mansion, but if the Saturday tours were any inclination, I think we can expect tours in the future.
The Archibald Johnston mansion was owned by, you guessed it, Archibald Johnston who was once president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and mayor of Bethlehem, PA. The home was built in 1923 and stayed in the family until about 2005. It was willed to Bethlehem Township and since that time the mansion has had its fair share of deterioration from weather, vandals, and lack of use. Since then citizens marveled at the home always wondering the fate of the gorgeous home, while also wondering what it truly looks like on the inside.
The first set of photos were taken two years ago on February 3, 2016. I took a day off of work to wonder around and photograph. My journey led me to the mansion, where like others was fascinated by the structure. The second set is from the open house where I was able to see the inside of the mansion. Some rooms were closed off due to either the roof missing or not being in great shape, but for an abandoned place this was in much better shape than others. Paintings, furniture, and the like aren’t present due to being auction off or stored. The tour lasted about a hour and at the end, the guide mentioned from here money is being put in the home for the exterior first. This includes the windows, shutters, doors and the grounds. The tricky part is the interior, which will cost much more. The township is open to ideas as to what the home should become and who will invest in it, but for now it is just taking it one day at a time. Restoring the mansion is a huge undertaking, and worthy of doing, just needs time and patience. Hopefully something will come of it during its 100th anniversary, but until then take a walk around the property and marvel at the beauty this house radiates. In time it will only get brighter.
And yes, the township is looking into doing more tours.