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Bethlehem Housing Authority records

Identifier: SC MS 0334

Scope and Contents

The collection of material has been divided among three archival boxes and within each box are folders containing material categorized chronologically. The maps, white prints and blueprints have been sorted by Project number and filed in three large folders placed in map drawers.


  • Creation: 1943-1962


Language of Materials


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Access Restrictions: Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Please inquire about copyright information.

Biographical / Historical

The Bethlehem Housing Authority was established in 1939 – one of the first in the nation after the Depression to provide low-income public housing in answer to the 1937 National Housing Act to improve living conditions adversely affected by the Great Depression. Industrial cities like Bethlehem had an acute need to house workers who came to work at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. During the World War II era when the Bethlehem plant of Bethlehem Steel employed 10,000 laborers, there was an urgent need for housing especially in areas adjacent to the mills. The first board of directors for BHA consisted of chairman and mayor Robert Pfeifle, Weir Jepson, Merritt Kreidler, William Coyle and Andrew W. Litzenberger. Mayor Pfeifle, the only five term mayor of Bethlehem, was also a carpenter and builder. Robert Neumeyer (LU Class of 1887) was the first BHA director later followed by Ralph J. Bartholomew (whose correspondence is in this collection) who started the expansion to meet the needs of elderly housing. In an effort to boost local economy and in cooperation with Federal programs to promote the general economy and employment following the war years, the Bethlehem Housing Authority embarked on low-income housing building and urban improvement projects partially funded by Federal funds as well as bond issue. In Bethlehem these plans were: the Temporary War Housing Project 42369 of 1943, the Robert Pfeifle Housing for the elderly known as Project PA-11-5 of 1961-1963 initiated in 1962 consisted of 50 units of garden apartments the first of their type for seniors in the area located in northeast Bethlehem funded by a bond issue, the Pembroke Housing known as PA-11-1 of 1961. The Pembroke Village located in northeast Bethlehem was originally built in 1941 acknowledged the need for low-cost housing consisted of all brick units and designated as "permanent war housing." The ideas was that all other war housing would be demolished at the end of the war – the South Terrace project was so designated but was kept as public housing when Bethlehem's population increased from 50,000 to 75,000 and not totally demolished and rebuilt until 1985 by federal money. This collection is limited to these projects but there were other urban development projects such as the 1963 "Monocacy Creek Urban Renewal Area" when the Route 378 highway was proposed to connect Route 22 to Route 309.

Some of the personal and corporate names,a nd geographical locations mentioned are: Altemus, Charles -- Bartholomew, Ralph J. -- Biro, Joseph E. -- Brown, Harman S. -- Burgess, Archie P. -- Carr, Thomas A. -- Loretti, Frank V. -- Pfeifle, Robert -- Scattene, Frank A. --

Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) Housing Authority -- Brown and Genther Architects -- Anthracite Plate Glass Company -- Lehigh Valley Pipe Fabricating Co. -- Morris Black & Sons, Inc. -- Pennsylvania Association of Housing and Redevelopment Agencies -- United States. Public Housing Administration -- Security Aluminum Window Manufacturing Corp. -- United States Housing Authority -- West Side Electrical Services -- Stewart A. Jellett Company (Engineers) -- The Pidcock Company --

Bethlehem (Pa.) -- Pembroke Village -- Marvine Village -- South Terrace -- Southside Bethlehem (Pa.) -- Robert Pfeifle Homes.


6.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes, 3 flat folders)


In an effort to boost local economy and employment in the building trades, the Bethlehem Housing Authority directors embarked on large scale public housing projects. Monies provided by the federal government to the states and ultimately to the local communities were applied to several housing projects: Temporary War Housing Project 1943 to accommodate the large influx of workers for Bethlehem Steel's wartime effort which became known as the Pembroke Housing; the Robert Pfeifle Houses, 1961-1963 for elderly housing and the temporary low-income housing known as South Terrace in Southside Bethlehem. These low-income public housing efforts are presented in the files located in this collection.


Collection divided into 2 major series based on projects: 1.Temporary War Housing Project 42369, 1943 2.Robert Pfeifle Houses, Project PA-11-5 1961-1963 Subseries: Files on PA-11-1 and PA-11-1 Pembroke Houses

Acquisition Information

March 30, 2017 transfer from Facilities Services (L.U. Finance Administration) Karen Williamson

Related Materials

Redevelopment Authority records -- Urban Renewal files -- Lehigh Property Ownership collection

Finding aid of Bethlehem Housing Authority records
Eleanor Nothelfer.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Lehigh University Library and Technology Services.

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)