About the "Friends of the 1803 House"

Our Story

Rodale Press had purchased the property that the 1803 House was built on in the mid-1960’s for expansion of their business. Robert Rodale worried about tearing down the old house on the property without first doing some research. He and Mayor Pierce Randall agreed that Rodale would donate the house to the borough, along with $10,000 in “seed money”, if a committee could be established to research the history of the house, and raise an additional $10,000 from the community if restoration was decided upon. Robert and Ardath Rodale then donated the house and property to the borough in 1974 [black and white pictures to the right are courtesy of the Emmaus  Public Library.]  Restoration began after the 1976 Bicentennial celebration, with that committee comprising the majority of the new "Friends of the 1803 House” committee. The Friends of the 1803 House is a non-profit 501(c-3) corporation which administers the house as a museum, and is generally the caretaker for the owner, the Borough of Emmaus.  Fund raising is through memberships, special events, corporate sponsorships, grants and donations.

In 1975:
When standing at the 1803 House, what would you have seen looking around in the early 1800's?
To the West was the village of Emmaus...
To the East was a stream and forest now called "South Mountain"...
To the North was cleared farming fields...

Who Built the 1803 House?

      Jacob Ehrenhardt Jr. built the 1803 House.  He was the son of Jacob Ehrenhardt Sr. who was one of the founders of Emmaus. Jacob Jr. was the youngest of 10 children of Jacob and Barbara Ehrenhardt. In 1760 his father’s house was built (a stucco house across Keystone Avenue across from the Moravian church), also the year his father died. Their neighbor was Andreas Giering, a shoemaker...Jacob, Jr. became a shoemaker, which was probably not a coincidence.
       In 1782, Jacob Jr. who was 22, enlisted in the Northampton county Militia (now Lehigh County) with 11 other men to fight in the Revolution, and was promptly removed from the Emmaus congregation which he had formally joined only about a month before. The war lasted only one more year (1775-1783), ending with the Treaty of Paris, so Jacob and the other 11 enlistees returned home safely and each would find his last resting place in God's Acre [left]; all were eventually accepted back into the church. Jacob’s mother’s house, Michael Knauss’ s house and the Sun Inn in Bethlehem all were hospitals during the Revolution.
      Jacob, Jr. married Susanna Saeger in 1785, eventually having four daughters. In 1803, at the age 43, Jacob Jr. built this fine Federal Style house . At that time his girls were Barbara age 18, Anna Marie age 15, Anna Eleonora age 9 and Susanna age 6. He might have lived in his father’s log cabin while his house was being built. His wife Suzanna died in 1819, and he was remarried several years later to Elizabeth Arnold. Jacob, Jr. was known as a Revolutionary War soldier, a shoemaker and a builder. Jacob saw Emmaus grow from 92 residents in 1804 to approximately 130 at the time of his death in 1825. Because he went against the teaching of the Moravian faith, he was buried in God’s Acre, unrecorded and forgotten as a war hero. It wasn’t until later that the Liberty Bell Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution found his name and the names of 11 men who serviced from Emmaus. They now are marked with the American flags. In addition to a modest gravestone in the church cemetery, Jacob leaves behind his handsome Federal-style home.  Today the Ehrenhardt house is administered by the Friends of the 1803 House, Inc. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and serves as a living classroom for the community at large. Through scheduled tours and various special events throughout the year, children and adults can obtain a glimpse into the lifestyle of the inhabitants of colonial Emmaus – into the lives of Jacob and Susanna Ehrenhardt and their four daughters.
      In 2003, The Friends of the 1803 House celebrated the passing of 200 years since Jacob Ehrenhardt, Jr. built this stone, Federal-style home for his wife Susanna and their four daughters. He located it just south of the Moravian Church, on a plot of land owned by his father; outside of the confine.

The Architechure of the 1803 House

Excerpt from "The Architecture of the 1803 House of Emmaus, Pennsylvania" [written by Richard Farmer]
     In 1803 Jacob Ehrenhardt, Jr., age 43, and Susanna Saeger Ehrenhardt finally decided to construct the house of their dreams - a house for them and their four daughters, Barbara, Anna Marie, Anna Eleonora and Susanna. The house was constructed on a knoll at the base of South Mountain, just outside the original Moravian village of Emmaus, Pennsylvania with a good view of the Moravian Church from the front door of the house. The house was oriented perfectly on the axes of true north, south, east and west with a small creek flowing by. Its German architectural elements included local field stone, a finely carved wooden doorway entrance, fireplaces, brick jack arches over the windows, and a well-crafted shutter system.
     The ancestors of the Ehrenhardt’s came to the new world from central Europe as a result of population growth, natural disasters, wars, inheritance practices, high taxes, debt and religious intolerance. Although of German heritage the Ehrenhardt’s were influenced by the English customs that had been well established in The New World. The plan of the 1803 House contains large interior spaces for special functions, spaces for work, sustenance, display and leisure. 
    They chose to construct a house with distinguishing Federal-style architectural elements. The Germanic influenced structure displayed the influence of the Renaissance that had spread to England and The New World. 
     The 1803 House is two stories; The side-through passage provides access to prominent spaces; The architecture mingles English and German styles - personal possessions were also mingled (German immigrants assimilating the New World, a process of Americanization); The interiors are filled with an abundance of renaissance moldings and refined architectural materials; The construction may have been documented using refined drawings that matched a Moravian standard. THIS WAS NOT AN ORDINARY PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN FARMHOUSE...
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Macllwraith, The 1803 House A Glimpse Into Its Past, (Friends of the 1803 House, Emmaus, PA, 2006)Falk, Cynthia G., Architecture and Artifacts of the Pennsylvania Germans - Constructing Identity In Early America, (The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA,2008)

Friends of the 1803 House Board

2020 Board Members
President:  Richard Farmer
Vice President: Marian Schneck
Treasurer: Walter Lewis
Secretary: Heather Balliet
Dee Bauernschmidt
Maxine Benedick
Richard Brown
Lis Cassler
Jill Cramer
Rachel Cubellis
Andrea Grim
Alison Hudak
Lucy McLeod
Joie Jackson-Wenner
Janice Stavrou
Honorary Lifetime Directors:
Laura Fetzer
Alan Hawman
Robin Kertis
Corinne Machmer
Susan Smith
Deb Stevens

1803 House Education Programs:

The 1803 House offers Educational Programs. A nominal fee is required.  We currently have an educational partnership with nearby Seven Generations Charter School and local school districts. We have held many educational events at the 1803 House. For more information email us at education@1803house.org.

National Register of Historic Places

In 2003 the 1803 House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior.

Thank You for being a "FRIEND"...

Donna Allen, Jennifer Allen, Craig and Ann Bartholomew; Al and Dee Baurernschmidt; Maxine and Ron Benedick; Linda Burkhardt, Madelyn Cart; Lis Cassler; Gene Clock, Jill and Carl Cramer; Rachel Cubellis; Jack and Judy Daddona; Bob and Corrine Durdock; Dale and Kathy Eck; Sophia Fadem; Zona and Dick Farmer; Cor Faur; Laura Fetzer; Rev. and Mrs Fred Foerster; Joy Frankenfield, Doug Hall; Alan Hawman; Alison B. Hudak; Maryellen Iobst; Donald Jaffe; Andrew R. Kerstetter; Lesley and John Lojko; Aidan Levinson, Steve and Louise Long; Corinne H. Machmer; Richard Mackes; Jane Maulfair; Lucy McLeod; Pat Merrowsky, Miers Insurance; Kathy Miller, Jayne and Ron Moxey; Judy Parker; Robin Parker, Audrey Gardner Racines; Pete and Marian Schneck; Lexa H. Shallcross; Susan Smith; Joan Snyder; Janice Stavrou, Jessica and Dikran Yazujian;  Millidine Waterman; Emily Webb, Joie Jackson Wenner; Naomi Winch, Joe Zeller and Ann Wertman; Pat Zentner.  2020 Membership form