Bethlehem Church Street Mansion Chosen as SOTA Show House 2014

SOTA Show House exterior largeSociety of the Arts of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley announced today the selection of the home of Drs. Bill and Peggy Hoffman at 47 East Church Street in Historic Bethlehem for the SOTA Show House 2014. “As supporters of the arts, it gives us great pleasure to loan our home to the Society of the Arts for its fundraiser, Show House 2014, which will benefit the educational programs of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley,” said the Hoffman’s. The SOTA Show House 2014 is being nicknamed “Downtown Abbey” due its grandeur and its connection to the Moravian community, which together invoke parallels to the popular TV show.

“The Museum appreciates the hard work and dedication our SOTA volunteers invest in the Show House event.  It’s a great fundraiser as well as a longstanding tradition that has been embraced by the communities throughout the Lehigh Valley over the last forty years.” said David Mickenberg, the Priscilla Payne Hurd President and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley.

Outreach to the community is one of the key missions of the Show House leadership.  This desire to bring community and the museum together is one reason the SOTA Show House 2014 will have the lowest ticket price in years.   “We felt it important that the Designers’ work be accessible to the majority of the community, especially with this being the 41st anniversary of our first show house,” said Shirlee Neumeyer Show House Co-Chair when asked about the new prices. “We feel a $12 advance ticket price, and $15 at the door, is affordable.  We hope to see a great turnout.”

Downtown AbbeyThe SOTA Show House 2014 tickets are now available at the Allentown Art Museum and through select local merchants. (Ticket provider list is attached and is also available at SOTA’s website Group tours will also be available.

The SOTA Show House 2014 will be open daily from April 26th through May 18th.  Hours will be Monday through Thursday 11 AM until 5 PM, Friday 11 AM until 7 PM, Saturday 11 AM until 5 PM and Sunday noon to 6 PM.

SOTA 4SOTA’s Show House 2014 is a mansion in Historic Bethlehem on former Moravian grounds. The home was built in the 1870’s in the federal style and had an addition added during the 1910s. “Designers will incorporate antiques into current design styles to help make an old home new to the theme Refresh, Renew, Redo!,” said  Sherry May, Show House Co-Chair. “This is a great historic mansion and our Designers are inspired by both the home and the owners’ antiques.”  “Downtown Abbey” has been divided into 20 distinct design spaces.   Potential Designers are working in their truest capacity by meeting with the owners to see how they can showcase their style while keeping the owners’ taste and the home’s style in mind.

SOTA 3Visitors to the SOTA Show House 2014 will see the fruition of the collaboration by walking through the home’s rooms including the kitchen, dining room, formal living room, 2nd floor billiard room, bedrooms, bathrooms and offices. The home offers generous sized rooms for Designers to showcase the possibilities and their talent in working with an historical home.  The owners’ collection includes colonial, African and European pieces including a 16th century linen press and the original Fred Bees painting of the home seen below.  The mansion’s many architectural appointments include a grand staircase, French doors, Mercer tiled fireplaces, a sleeping porch and the homes elaborate crown moldings.  The land was once owned by the Moravians who had to provide a single red rose annually to the William Penn family in exchange for use of the land.

SOTAEven the garage gets a makeover! The stained beadboard walled garage will host the popular SOTA Repeat Boutique. New and gently used household articles, jewelry, small furniture, Designer handbags, cookbooks and similar items donated by Society of the Arts members and friends will be sold in the garage.

About Society of the Arts (SOTA) and the Show House

The Show House is a fundraiser benefiting the Allentown Art Museum’s educational programs, the SOTA Education Endowment and the SOTA Print Fund.  Society of the Arts is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014. Founded in 1964, SOTA is a non-profit women’s service organization. Their purpose is to work with and actively support the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley.  SOTA, through its fund raising efforts, has contributed over $1,100,000 to support the Museum.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you stand on the sidewalk and look up at 47 East Church Street, you see a tall white house with fine large windows.  There are handsome porches one above the other on the east side.  The porches are shaded by old American elms.

The land on which the house stands had belonged to William Penn’s family and in 1741 came into the possession of the Moravian Church.  The Moravian Church was required to pay to the Penn family each year in June the romantic quit-rent of a single red rose.

The Reverend Sylvester Wolle, the headmaster of the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies, purchased three lots from the Moravian Church.  Solomon Steckel bought one lot from Wolle and in 1872 built the house you see.  Steckel may have planted the wisteria growing across the front of the property.  The vines are extremely old.  The next owner was Edward Coppee Mitchell.  Mitchell bought an additional lot from the Wolle family which created the large garden that extends out toward the east.

SOTA SH cure porchLook up at the enclosed upstairs porch.  The house’s third owner, Jane Coyle, and her husband, U.S. Congressman (Colonel) William Coyle, enclosed it to make a sanitarium for their son who suffered from tuberculosis.  Colonel and Mrs. Coyle also enlarged the house, but the dining room, kitchen, pantry and upstairs back-bedrooms are not visible from the street.

Frank and Mary Baker lived there next.  They made careful changes to the inside of the house.   When Dutch elm disease killed so many trees, Frank Baker saved those American elms you see shading the porches.  The two trees are the same age, but one was struck by lightning and suffered quite a set-back.

SOTA 5For a few years Donald and Shirley Bowen lived in the house.  Then in 1984 Dr. William and Margaret (Margaret Kraybill, MD) Hoffman made it their home.  It is the Hoffman’s house that we see today.  We can admire the beautiful rooms and fine antique furnishings.

So many people have enjoyed this house.  Its tall ceilings, wide halls and elegant rooms strike the perfect balance between grand and imposing and home-like.  If you listen carefully, you can hear the wind moving through the branches of the old elms, the sounds of carpenters’ hammers, children’s voices in the side yard, faint music from a dance band, the stomping of horses, a hymn sung in German.



1741, April 2:  Henry Antes purchased 5000 acres from William Allen to hold in trust for the Moravian Church.

1863, April 1:  Charles F. Beckel, as trustee of the Moravian Church, sold lots 25, 27, and 29 (currently 47 and 55 East Church Street) to Sylvester Wolle, the first individual to own the properties.


1864:  S. Wolle sold lot 27 to his wife, Sarah Caroline Wolle.

1872, July 21:  S. Wolle sold lot 25 to Solomon A. Steckel.

1872-1874:  Solomon A. Steckel built the original house.  1874, April 1:  lot 25 “condemned” by the sheriff to Merchant’s Bank of Easton.

1876, May 18:  Sarah Caroline Wolle, owner of lot 27 which was next to the house, died.

1879, March 24:  Merchant’s Bank of Easton sold lot 25 to Edward Coppee Mitchell of Philadelphia for $5000.

1879, June 7:  Sarah Wolle’s son, Robert Wolle, sold Mitchell the lot next to his property, providing Mitchell with room for a large garden.

1912, July 25:  The estate of Edward Coppee Mitchell sold lots 25 and 27 to Jane Coyle, wife of U.S. Congressman (Colonel) William R. Coyle.  Colonel Coyle never owned the house; Mrs. Coyle owned the house.   The Coyles began an extensive addition to the back of the house.

1924:  The house was electrified.

1961:  The Coyle estate sold the property to Frank A. and Mary Randall Baker.

1981, September 15:  The Bakers sold the property to Donald and Shirley Bowen.

1984, January 20:  The Bowens sold the property to William and Margaret Hoffman.

  Event: Art in Bloom Garden Tea


SOTA Show House 2014 PR Chair
Mary Douglass
404.310.1111 – cell
Society of the Arts President
Teri Johnson
610.730.3380 – cell

Show House Co-Chairs:

Shirlee Neumeyer                    Sherry May
484.554.3893 – cell                 610.966.0409 – home
                                                          703.973.2234 – cell