Historical Markers
Linden Hall Historical Marker
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Linden Hall

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
772 (E. Main St.) at school in Lititz

Dedication Date:
April 9, 1990

Behind the Marker

Left to right, The Anstalt, Sisters' Barn, Sisters' House, Parsonage, Church, and the Brothers' House partly shown.
Linden Hall, with tower, flanked by other Moravian buildings, Lititz, PA, circa...
Linden Hall, a private nondenominational girls' boarding school in Lititz, originated as part of an expanding network of eighteenth-century communities created by the Moravian Church. Intended for the education of community children, the school has evolved over two and a half centuries into a high quality college preparatory institution. The institution, which today enrolls 125 young women, serves as an important reminder of the strong connection between religion and education in early Pennsylvania history.
Village scene of buildings and landscape
Young Ladies' Seminary and Church, at Bethlehem, PA, by Gustavus Grunewald,...

Moravians, otherwise known as the Unity of the Brethren (Unitas Fratrum), were disciples of Jan Hus, the Czech religious dissenter executed for heresy in 1415. A full century before Martin Luther initiated what historians think of as the Protestant Reformation, Hus openly challenged the doctrinal authority of the Catholic Church in his native Bohemia. A generation after his death, Hus's spiritual followers organized into a formal congregational polity in 1457. The Brethren were especially well organized in Germany, where at the movement's height their numbers exceeded 200,000.

Bitter religious and political persecution followed over the next several centuries. A decline in numbers by the late seventeenth century was matched by the church's remarkable renewal during the Trans-Atlantic religious awakening of the eighteenth century. Especially under the patronage of charismatic leaders like Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, the Moravian Church thrived in British America after Brethren missionaries first arrived in 1735.

Moravian Seminary, rear view from Monocacy Block, Bethlehem, Pa., c. 1865.
Moravian Seminary, as seen from Monocacy Block, Bethlehem, PA, circa 1865.
By the mid-eighteenth century Pennsylvania was fast becoming the most diverse colony in British North America. Attracted by the promise of religious tolerance and economic and political freedom, tens of thousands of immigrants from across Europe flooded into the colony. Moravians, with their long history of suffering persecution in Europe, were no exception. By the late 1740s, church members had established stable communities from New York to Georgia.

With their German language and culture en tow, Moravian immigrants settled throughout eastern Pennsylvania. A larger and more sustained migration to Bethlehem and markerNazareth in Northampton County very quickly overshadowed an early congregation in Germantown. Smaller communities appeared in places like Oley (Berks County) and Lebanon. The other great seat of Moravian culture was in Lancaster County, where Mennonite, markerAmish, and other German immigrant groups were settling.

In Lancaster City, Reamstown, Mt. Joy and especially in Lititz, church congregations sprang up during the 1740s. The Lititz Moravian congregation was the direct result of Count Zinzendorf's visit in 1746. That same year the community established a school that in time became Linden Hall. When the village of markerLititz was chartered ten years later, legend has it Zinzendorf himself suggested the name in honor of the place in Bohemia that had sheltered persecuted members in 1456.

Town view
Church and Young Gentlemen's Academy at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, circa 1840.
A persuasive evangelist and charismatic leader, Zinzendorf described the Moravians' style of intentional community as "societies for mutual confidence and edification." Somewhat like the earlier Puritans in New England, and the community at marker Ephrata, members lived in spiritual and social solidarity with each other, and the church was the center of their shared existence. A deep and sincere piety rested on a personal relationship with God, and social life was to mirror the larger spiritual calling of individual members.

As in other parts of Pennsylvania, a growing number of converts drawn to the piety, pacifism, and communal life style joined the core German immigrant membership. Moravians believed every human being was capable of salvation, and therefore must be educated. As the famous educator John Amos Comenius put it, "not the children of the rich or of the powerful only, but of all alike … should be sent to school." This gave education a practical value that enhanced individual and communal identity in the faith.

Linden Hall opened as a school for boys and girls, in a simple log structure adjacent to the church and east of the village crossroads. Though the institution did not enjoy the prominence of the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, which became Moravian College, or Nazareth Hall in that town, Linden Hall occupied an essential place in the local community. In the absence of the regular minister, it was not unheard of for the schoolmaster to preach a Sunday sermon or to call the fellowship to prayer.

For the first hundred years or so after its founding, Linden Hall reflected the closed, tight-knit features of the Moravian communal order. Contact with the outside world was never entirely cut off as Lititz grew into a prosperous village surrounded by lush farmlands. Members of the church were successful farmers, merchants, and shopkeepers. By order of General George Washington, during the Revolutionary War the pacifist Brethren turned one of the church dormitories into a military hospital.

Photograph of a Linden Hall student body standing in front a brick building.
The Linden Hall School for Girls, Lititz, PA, circa 1865.
In 1794, trustees reorganized Linden Hall as an exclusively girls' boarding school. Over the next century the institution went through numerous changes, and a gradual drift away from its Pietist foundations. A very successful village school directed by John Beck opened in 1815, and shortly thereafter a public school district was organized for Warwick Township.

Like Lititz itself, Linden Hall's curriculum evolved away from the heavy emphasis on religion and toward a more modern course of study judged appropriate to young women. In addition to standard disciplines like Reading, Spelling, History, Geography, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences, for a modest fee young girls could elect courses in Painting, Drawing, Horticulture, and Home Economy. In 1883, school benefactors laid the cornerstone for an ornate Victorian chapel that is quite different in appearance from the simplicity of the surrounding structures. Though physically close to other church buildings, Linden Hall had begun to acquire its separate reputation as an elite girls' school.

Today, Linden Hall occupies the same site it did two centuries before. "Our community values scholarly achievement," the mission statement reads, "character development, cultural awareness, and physical wellness, as it strives to prepare young women to assume the leadership roles of their generation."
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