By Colleen Ellwood-Surdoval I’m writing this blog entry as the lucky recipient of Discover Lehigh Valley’s Ultimate Paranormal Experience. As part of this contest, I, along with my sister, Michelle, had the opportunity to join a supernatural investigation of the Sun Inn in Bethlehem conducted by the good folks at Lights Out Paranormal on Halloween.
Prior to examining the scary haunts of The Sun Inn, we were given a tour of the historical significance of the building. We learned that the Inn was originally located in the outskirts of town to host visiting guests of the Moravian community in the 18th century.
[caption id="attachment_17669" align="alignright" width="220"] Non-Gingerbread Sun Inn[/caption]
Its first rate accommodations attracted many notable patrons, including George and Martha Washington, John Adams, and the Marquis de Lafayette. The building exudes hospitality, and has functioned as a lodge and tavern, restaurant, shelter, and museum through the years. Thanks to the efforts of Hughetta Bender and the Sun Inn Preservation Association the building has been architecturally restored to its original glory.
With its rich history of friendliness and warmth and the Inn’s cultural significance, it’s not surprising some guests never wanted to leave. Reports of hauntings span from the roof to the basement in this building! Ghostly children occupy the attic, while Hessian soldiers haunt the basement. The Lights Out Paranormal Team, collaborating with spiritual consultant Lauri Moore, made it their mission to discover who was inhabiting this seemingly vacant museum.
And we were there to help!
According to Lauri Moore, the “veil” separating the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest on Halloween, so we were there at the best possible time to solve the Inn’s mysteries.
Lauri was able to communicate with several presences throughout the investigation. Some spirits that made themselves known were: a servant from the Colonial era, two children in the attic, a woman in the Adams family (no, not the ADDAMS Family), and someone hiding something in the meeting room!
At present time, it is too soon to know the full breadth of paranormal activity documented by the recording equipment, but I am certain- this place is haunted!
I can see why spirits wanted to linger because Michelle and I did not want to leave either. As the investigation concluded, we wondered how could we commemorate this charming building and our magical experience?
Instantly, we both knew what to do - we could bake a gingerbread replica of the Sun Inn.
This might not be the average person’s first inclination, but Michelle and I traditionally bake a gingerbread house for the holidays. What started out as an half-baked idea ten years ago, has turned into nearly a bakers’ dozen of ginger and molasses houses. Certainly, we would be able to create an authentic and edible colonial lodge!
The very next day, our mother informed us that Artsquest was hosting its first annual gingerbread competition this year. Even better, one of the categories was to create a reproduction of a Lehigh Valley building. It’s as if the stars aligned perfectly over the Sun Inn! Despite our decade of cookie construction experience, we aren’t necessarily proficiently skilled in this area, but how could we not enter?!?!
When I told our friends at Discover Lehigh Valley about the plan to build an edible replica of the Sun Inn they asked me to write about the process for the blog. Here’s how we did it:
We started by returning to the Sun Inn to take pictures of the exterior of the real building and then used those pictures to make our blueprints. Once we were back home, Michelle operated as chief architect, drafting patterns for the walls, roof, and doors. And I began work on making the gingerbread dough.
- Next, we rolled out the dough to make the house parts and started prepping each piece. We have learned one of the easiest ways to achieve realistic bricks is to score brick onto the walls prior to baking. We also opted to pre-score the eaves of the roof.
- We brushed a colored egg wash mixed with red food coloring over the eaves to create the Inn’s distinctive red roof. Then we started baking. This took longer than we thought it would, what seemed like a straightforward rectangular building yielded approximately 20 pieces of gingerbread.
- We let the pieces cool overnight, and the next day we made three different shades of royal icing: grey, off-white and brown.
- We then layered this tri-colored earthly blend over reddish brown dough color and tried to mimic the aged brick on the real Inn. Also we installed the windows by “glueing” gelatin sheets to the interior walls with icing.
- My brother-in-law crafted us a little gingerbread ghost to stick in a window since the Sun Inn would not be complete without a spirit inhabitant.
- Once the icing was dry we began the assembly process. Historically, this has been the most nerve-racking part of the process. One trick we learned was to place canned goods to support the walls as we adhered them together.
We removed them after the icing dried and then, once we were confident the cookie walls weren’t going to crumble, we added the roof. The roof always creates a challenge for us, as a result we bake it a little larger than necessary so we can trim away excess during the assembly. We aren’t “real” architects so this is the best way we can ensure a the roof actually fits on the building.
- When we knew we had a stable house on our hands, we decorated it with some finishing touches. We created a sign out of fondant and a rolled wafer cookie. We also added a crushed candy walkway and holiday wreaths. A little coconut flake snow completed the holiday look!
I’m happy to report we delivered the house in one piece to the SteelStacks! The gingerbread house competition is on display until December 23rd. If you are interested in learning more about the creation of the house, check out our blog at http://agingerbreadhousedivided.blogspot.com/.