The Streets of Bethlehem: Fountain Hill
As we travel through the streets of Fountain Hill, each name will tell a part of Fountain Hill’s story of developing from farmland into a charming borough. Strap on some boots and let’s take a hike up the hill.
This street is named for Andrew Ostrum, who reached Bethlehem in 1743 as part of the Second Sea Congregation, traveling across the Atlantic on the ship “Little Strength”. He settled on the Southside on land purchased directly from the Penns. After his wife died, Andrew sold his land to the Moravians. The Ostrum tract had an inexhaustible supply of stone used in the construction of Lehigh University and the Bethlehem Iron Works.
In the 1740s, Moravian Cornelius Weygandt moved to Bethlehem and chose to settle on a farm rather than in town, so he cleared land on the mountain that now includes Fountain Hill and built a house. After Weygandt moved on in 1762, the mountain farm lay idle for a number of years until Marcus Kieffer became the next tenant.
What we know as Fountain Hill today was once Moravian farmland. In the 1790s, John Christian Cleval became a tenant of this farm, which was rented from the Moravian congregation. Today this name is known as Clewell.
The Moravian farm covering much of Fountain Hill became known as the Hoffert farm because of this family’s long tenure operating it. John Hoffert acquired the land around 1810, and his son succeeded him in farming until 1864. Charles C. Tombler purchased the property in 1848.
Charles C. Tombler, first shoe dealer in Bethlehem, acquired the Hoffert farm, which covered much of Fountain Hill, in 1848. He sold a part of his purchase to his brother-in-law Daniel C. Freitag and a part to Charles Augustus Fiot, a Frenchman.
The Moravian congregation, which had fallen into debt in the 1840s, broke their Southside farms into building lots and began selling to non-Moravians. Developers Rudolphus Kent, Charles Hacker and Samuel Shipley from Philadelphia purchased property and laid out streets, giving them Indian names: Cherokee, Pawnee, Seneca and Wyandotte.
Charles Augustus Fiot, a retired music dealer from Philadelphia, bought property from Charles Tombler for his summer home in 1848. A Frenchman by birth, he was determined to turn his property into a French manor. After remodeling the old farmhouse and putting in fountains and exotic trees, he called his estate Fountainbleau, after the French village in which he was born. After his death in 1866, his 146 acres were sold to Tinsley Jeter.
Named for Tinsley Jeter, the Father of Fountain Hill. Jeter had purchased the Fountainbleau estate, along with other unsold lots from Moravian farms. Much effort was made by Jeter in developing the land into a beautiful residential area. It was Jeter who chose the name Fountain Hill for his new town in 1866.
After purchsing the Fountainbleau estate, Tinsley Jeter believed the property would be the perfect setting for a girls’ school. The house that Charles Tombler built and Augustis Fiot remodeled became Bishopthorpe Manor, meaning “the place of the bishop.” The Bishopthorpe School for Girls operated between 1868 and 1930.
So named for the Lechauweki Springs summer resort, situated on the Lehigh Mountain above the avenue. Owner John Smylie borrowed the Indian name for the Lehigh for his first-class resort. Tourists flocked to Lechauweki Springs to breathe in an abundance of pure fresh air and for the medicinal purposes of the spring water that filled a large pool.
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