The Haunted Lehigh Valley

The Haunted Lehigh Valley

The Lehigh Valley is no stranger to things that go “bump in the night”. As a matter of fact, some of our paranormal presences are so well known they’ve been featured on national television shows and become the subject of popular ghost tours. In Bethlehem alone, a walk down historic Main Street will take you past a half dozen buildings where supernatural encounters have been reported.

So for this Halloween season, here’s a look at the stories behind some of the valley’s “local haunts”.


Hotel Bethlehem | Bethlehem

Perhaps the Lehigh Valley’s most famous haunted building, the Hotel Bethlehem opened in 1922, during the “Roaring Twenties”. It sits atop the site of the city’s first house (built in 1741) and a former hotel, called the Eagle, which operated from 1822 to 1919. The site’s long history means literally hundreds of thousands of souls have passed through it. And, like the State Theatre (pg. 17), a few apparently stayed.

According to hotel guests and employees, several distinct apparitions roam the building. This includes the spirit of a well-dressed young woman, who has been spotted in the lobby and third floor areas. Often heard singing, she is thought to be the ghost of Miss Mary Augusta Yohe.

Born at the site in 1866, Miss Yohe was part of the family that owned and operated the Eagle Hotel. From an early age, she displayed a talent for entertainment, and would often sing and dance for guests in the hotel lobby. Eventually taking her talents to Europe, Miss Yohe gained fame as an operatic singer. In the 1890s, she also gained immense wealth through marriage to Britain’s Lord Francis Clinton Hope – owner of the famous Hope diamond. They divorced after only a few years, however, and Miss Yohe went on to marry a string of financially unsuccessful men, eventually dying in poverty in Boston in 1938. Because of her rather troubled adulthood, it is believed that her spirit returned to the hotel because that’s where, as a young girl, she enjoyed the happiest moments of her life.

In addition to the more “formative” figures that have been seen in the hotel, one guest room – number 932 – has also been the site of much paranormal activity. Over the years, people staying in 932 have witnessed ghostly reflections in the mirrors, papers that fly off the desk and lights that flash off and on. One couple even awoke to the sight of a man standing at the foot of their bed, only to turn on the light and find no one there. In recent years, the Hotel Bethlehem has embraced its “spirited guests”. Room 932 is now billed as the “Room with a Boo” and is one of their most requested accommodations.


Sun Inn | Bethlehem

Located just up the street from the Hotel Bethlehem, the Sun Inn is also known as a paranormal hotspot. Originally built by Moravians in 1758, its list of notable visitors included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Adams and the Marquis de Lafayette, just to name a few.

Today, the Inn is supposedly the eternal home of several different entities. Among the most active are the spirit of an older woman in a white apron, a younger woman who is believed to be a nurse who died there in the late 1800s, and the ghost of young girl, who is reported to roam the attic. Inexplicable sightings have occurred so often that in 2011 the SyFy Channel sent their Ghost Hunters team to Bethlehem to conduct an investigation. After spending a night in the building, the group concluded that the Sun Inn is indeed home to significant paranormal activity.


The Widow’s Tavern & Grille | Stockertown

Much like Stemie’s (pg. 18), two-hundred years ago the Widow’s Tavern & Grille was a popular stagecoach stop for people on the road to Philadelphia. An inn where weary travelers could spend the night, it was also rumored to function as a brothel.

During this time, the story goes that an employee named Marvin fell in love with one of the ladies who worked there. The inn’s owner didn’t agree with the illicit affair and fired Marvin as a means to end it. A short time later, Marvin was found hung to death in the inn’s back stairway.

While no one knows exactly how Marvin came to hang (was he so distraught over the loss of his lover that he killed himself? Or was the innkeeper much angrier than anyone had imagined?), what is known is that the Widow’s Tavern has never been the same. Today, witnesses report strange sounds, glowing white shadows, doorknobs that turn on their own, and the occasional sight of a mysterious, unidentified man drinking from an old-fashioned beer stein.


State Theatre | Easton

One of the most iconic structures in Easton, the State Theatre dates back more than 100 years. During that time it has had countless performers, patrons and employees walk through its doors. One, however, apparently refuses to leave.

According to witnesses, the ghost of former manager J. Fred Osterstock has been wandering the State Theatre for more than forty years. Osterstock, who worked there from 1936 to 1965, was first sighted in the 1970s, when the theatre was slipping into decline. On evenings when the stage was dark, and the seats empty, employees began catching glimpses a distinguished looking man walking around the backstage areas. On several occasions, the police were even called, but they were unable to find anything.

After looking through a collection of old theatre photos, another former manager eventually recognized the ghostly apparition as Osterstock. Since then, employees, volunteers and patrons alike have embraced the otherworldly presence. In fact, the theatre’s annual Freddy Awards, which honor outstanding achievement in local high school theatre groups, is even named in his honor.


Stemie’s Place | Easton

Built in 1783, Stemie’s was originally known as the Black Horse Inn – a popular stagecoach stop for people traveling up and down the Delaware River. Its ghost, however, emerged during Prohibition and the “golden age” of gangsters.

According to legend, in the late 1920s the tavern was a favorite hangout spot for a number of men with ties to organized crime. One in particular was Saverio Damiano, who was also known by the alias Johnny Farrara.

On the night of July 22, 1928, Damiano was in the tavern using the telephone near the top of the cellar stairs when several men suddenly burst in and opened fire – sending his bullet-riddled body tumbling down the steps. Although the exact motivation for the murder is a bit unclear (some sources suggest Damiano was skimming money, others say he was having an affair with the boss’s wife), it was, by all accounts, a clear mob hit.

The police investigated the incident and charged several suspects with Damiano’s murder, but none were ever convicted. And to this day, supernatural occurrences – like objects that move on their own, shadowy apparitions and the inexplicable sound of footsteps – have been reported at Stemie’s.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram