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Photo of Zinzendorf Hall in winter

What's in a Name? 7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Guy Behind Zinzendorf Hall

March 3, 2016
photo of Zinzendorf Hall (brick building with pointed roof) in the afternoon

Unless you are an English student, you probably haven’t spent much time in Zinzendorf Hall. Nestled between Comenius Hall and Reeves Library, a three-story brick building sits beneath the shade of a cluster of tall trees. The building was built in 1892 as Moravian College's refectory (basically, the nineteenth century version of the Marketplace). Today, the building houses classrooms, faculty offices, the Doghouse and the Writing Center.

You may visit the Writing Center on the second floor, sit in a literature class in one of the building’s two classrooms, or simply pass by its bright blue doors on your way to finish some homework in Reeves, but how much do you really know about Count von Zinzendorf, the impressive Moravian figure behind the building’s unique name? Here's 8 must-knows:

1. He was born in Germany in 1700.

vintage map of Saxony, Germany

The man after which a small brick refectory was named in eastern Pennsylvania actually grew up thousands of miles away in Dresden, the capital of Saxony in Germany.

2. He was raised by his grandmother.

drawing of young Count Von Zinzendorf

During a time period in which women had little say, his grandmother practically controlled  every decision he made, including his education and even where he lived with his first wife. Talk about helicopter (grand)parenting.

3. He established a community for religious refugees.

drawing of Zinzendorf estate in Herrnhut, Germany.jpg

After his grandmother’s death, Zinzendorf purchased her estate in Herrnhut, Germany. He quickly transformed it into a place of refuge for religious asylum-seekers from Bohemia and Moravia. It was one decision he made on his own that his Pietist grandmother would have looked upon proudly. 

4. He was banished from his home in Saxony.

saxony crest, image of two black birds with red shield and royal crown, and sceptre.jpg

Not everyone approved of Zinzendorf’s actions. He often found himself and his Moravian views at odds with Saxony’s Lutheran government. The government kicked him out of the state and he remained exiled for eleven years.

5. He gave the city of Bethlehem its name.

image of Hotel Bethlehem downtown at night

During his exile, Zinzendorf travelled the globe to spread the views of the Moravian religion through various missions. His largest Moravian mission was to our very own Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve in 1742, according to legend, Zinzendorf was inspired to name the city after the hymn "Jesus, Call Thou Me … lowly Bethlehem."

6. His wife also has a Moravian College building named after her.

drawing of anna nitschmann.jpg

In 1757, Zinzendorf married Anna Nitschmann. A prominent Moravian Sister, Anna was Zinzendorf’s second wife. The Anna Nitschmann House on campus is named in her honor. 

7. Saxony eventually welcomed him back home.

carved monument of Count Zinzendorf.jpg

Shortly before his death, Zinzendorf returned home to Herrnhut. He passed away in 1760, at the age of sixty. A monument in his honor is still displayed in his hometown. 

Over 4,000 miles away, Zinzendorf Hall stands as another monument to the prominent Moravian figure. Whether you are working on a paper with a writing tutor, meeting with an English professor, or just passing by, now you know the story of the man behind the brick.


I didn't realize that building was no l9nger part of the seminary, nor that there was a building on campus named for Anna Nitschmann.
I graduated in 1971, and we left Bethlehem in 1983. As soon as my husband retires, we will be back!

Patty McCarthy… (not verified) | Wed, 03/30/2016 - 14:01