National Register of Historic Places Description

Prepared by William K. Watson, Historian, September 1977

The long, low eaved building, known through two centuries as the "Shelter House", is a medieval type log building. The building was constructed c.1734 along a well traveled Indian path that traversed the Lehigh or South Mountain ridge.  It is the oldest standing log building in Lehigh County.

The building is constructed of exposed trimmed horizontal logs with masonry chinking. The building is approximately 40' by 25' and was constructed in two sections. The larger center chimney section was constructed by the Kratzer and Giering families in 1734 with a one bay gable addition being added in 1741. The gables are closed with random width vertical siding. The windows as in most early Germanic buildings are both infrequent and small. There are three doors all located in the original section. A single door is located in the southern facade while a pair of doors are located in the northern side. A large square stone chimney breaks the roof ridge. Here, as at Ephrata Cloister, the structural timbers which span the house protrude on the exterior where they are visibly pegged stabilizing the fabric at eave level. The original pent reef along the south facade is no longer extant. The interior of the Shelter House has been altered over the years. However, some original woodwork and fireplaces are still preserved.

Preservation work was recently completed on the building. A hand-split shingle roof was added as well as restoration work on window frames and sash.

The Shelter House is an important local landmark as well as an exceptional example of early Germanic log construction. The building was located along a well traveled Indian path and often served as a stopover for travelers. After the founding of Emmaus in 1761, the house became a sort of hostel, a tavern where the wayfarer could find lodging, food and drink. It was some years later the the Moravians of Emmaus established a tavern just beyond the confines of their sectarian town.

Architecturally, this building represents an excellent example of 18th century German log house. Many of the features such as center chimney, random width gable boards, exposed exterior log surfaces, etc. are example of early construction that have all but disappeared.