Borough of Emmaus in Lehigh Valley
Video released on: November 5, 2010
Welcome to this episode of Lehigh Valley Visions. Today, we’re taking a tour of the Borough of Emmaus located southwest of Allentown. Founded in 1759 by the Moravians, it was once the hub of manufacturing and industry, producing everything from silk and cigars to machinery and iron.
Today, those industries have made way for service and retail businesses, which have led to the walkable downtown district with its charming shops, quaint restaurants, and popular attractions. Emmaus has grown into a destination for visitors from all across the region and has even gained the attention of Money Magazine, which in 2009 included it as number 88 on its list the 100 Best Places to Live.
Downtown Emmaus is filled with locally owned shops and restaurants that you can easily spend all day exploring. Search for just the right home decor items, gifts, and artisan crafts. There’s a collection of home improvement stores dubbed “Home Row” selling everything from decorative hardware to paint and wallpaper. Then have a bite to eat at a local cafe or restaurant, serving everything from Italian fare to freshly baked goods.
One of the most popular farmers’ markets in Lehigh Valley is the Emmaus Farmers’ Market. Opened every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, from May through late-November, it’s what’s known as a producer-only market. That means it features the freshest vegetables, fruits, meats, baked goods, and more from local farms and businesses, some of which are certified organic and use sustainable farming practices.
One thing you can’t miss in Downtown Emmaus is the train. It runs on a regular schedule of 20-minute intervals on its way from the Northeast to points in the Midwest. But don’t plan to jump on board at its next stop because it isn’t a passenger train but rather a freight line hauling cargo.
Just above the tracks seats the Emmaus Theater. Built in the 1920 as the Penlow [SP] Theater, today it shows second-run movies fresh from the major movie theaters. A night out at the theater makes for an affordable family outing at less than $5 a person for admission.
In the more than 250 years it’s been in existence, Emmaus has developed a rich history, too. It was originally established as a closed Moravian community that was self-sufficient for 100 years. As settlers moved in, the community changed and removed its rigid restrictions, formally becoming the Borough of Emmaus in 1859. This shelter house was built in 1734 along a major Indian trail. It became a refuge for weary travelers and temporarily housed them until their own homes were established. It is believed to be the oldest, continuously occupied house in Lehigh Valley. The Federal Style 1803 House, as it’s known, was built in that year by Jacob Ehrenhardt who is the son of one of Emmaus’ founders. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a museum and is opened for visitors to tour.
We’re ending our tour of Emmaus today with a little shopping here at Sweet Memories. But there’s still plenty more of the Borough for you to explore on your next visit when you discover Lehigh Valley. Thanks for joining me for this episode of Lehigh Valley Visions.