Weyhill, a tranquil setting in a gentle rolling green valley, was settled by Jakob and Susanna Gangewere almost 50 years before the Revolutionary War and more than 10 years before the Moravians gathered to name Bethlehem. They had emigrated from the Palatinate region of Germany. Their grandson, Henry, gives us our first direct link to the Weyhill Guest House.
In 1788, about the time of his marriage, Henry built the Washington House, thought to be the oldest structure in Saucon Valley. He and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in the two-story building while their main house, the original part of the Guest House, was being built in 1790. Elizabeth, who predeceased her husband, is buried in the family cemetery alongside the 7th fairway.
The Gangeweres farmed the land, but with the spread of the industrial revolution and the development of iron making in the Lehigh Valley in the mid-1800’s, their property became more valuable for its hematite ore deposits. The Bethlehem Iron Company (predecessor company to Bethlehem Steel) and the Thomas Iron Company both had mining operations here to feed their companies’ furnaces in nearby plants.
At the turn of the twentieth century another manufacturing industry, brick making, took hold in the area and three companies operated at Weyhill. Clay, washed from the iron ore, was baked in furnaces owned by the Bingen Brick Company, Saucon Brick Company and Bethlehem Brick Manufacturing Company. Remains of a furnace were discovered near the 15th tee during golf course construction.
With the arrival in Bethlehem of Charles Schwab, who founded Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1904, the community began to extend its borders and grow rapidly.
Residential areas began to blossom, and among those lured to the pleasant rolling farmland of Saucon Valley were two of Bethlehem Steel’s top management: Frederick A. Shick, Comptroller, and Quincy Bent, Vice President in charge of all steel plants. Weyhill was made possible because of the farming interests of these two gentlemen.
Mr. Shick, a native of the area, returned home at Mr. Schwab’s invitation to join Bethlehem Steel. He purchased land once owned by the original settlers and developed a dairy and poultry operation, which he called “Saucona Farms,” the only supplier of raw milk in the area. Most of the farm buildings, which currently house the golf course offices and maintenance equipment, were built by Mr. Shick.
In the late twenties, frustrated with the lack of profits and knowing of his colleague’s interest, he sold the farm to Quincy Bent and his wife, Deborah. The Bents began their farming venture in earnest. Intent on producing certified milk for market, they added the large dairy barn near the 8th green to provide the most sterile environment for their Holstein and Guernsey cows. Evidence of their success was the first prize they won for certified milk at the State Farm Show in 1935.
The farm, which Mr. Bent renamed “Weyhill Farms” after his ancestral farming village in the County of Hampshire, England, also had a sizable number of poultry stock and, from time-to-time, sheep and pigs.
The Bents had intended to build a new home on Saucon Valley Road, their northern boundary. However, their Philadelphia architect, John Sinkler, prevailed upon them to renovate and expand the existing farm house, which by then was almost 140 years old. The original house was considerably smaller, extending only from the library to the fireplace wall in the dining room, on the first floor, and containing only three modest bedrooms on the second.
The Guest House floor plan today is essentially the result of the addition and renovations made in 1928. There was a formal “Green Garden”, no longer in existence, which was enclosed within the stone wall to the rear of the house. It was a favorite site for Mrs. Bent to entertain.
To provide their overnight guests with privacy and comfort, the Bents built the stone and frame house in 1933, now the clubhouse locker room. Attached to the main house, it had four bedrooms (two with fireplaces), four bathrooms and a sitting room with a fireplace.
Mr. Bent retired from Bethlehem Steel as a Director and Vice President in 1947, having worked more than 30 years with the company. He was General Manager of the Steelton Plant of the Pennsylvania Steel Company when Schwab purchased it in 1916. Even though that acquisition also brought with it the Sparrows Point plant and ore holdings in Cuba and at Cornwall, a tribute to Bent’s steelmaking genius came from none other than Mr. Schwab, quoted in Fortune, in 1941, saying, “He (Bent) was the biggest asset we bought in Pennsylvania Steel."
In failing health for some time, Mr. Bent sold Weyhill to Bethlehem Steel in 1954, and died the following year. Mrs. Bent lived there until her death in 1964.
Bethlehem decided to go ahead with long-time plans to build another golf course. In 1966, William F. Gordon and his son, David, golf course architects from nearby Doylestown, were selected to design and construct the course. Bill Gordon had been involved previously with Saucon Valley’s two other courses. While the course was being developed, the Guest House was occupied as offices by the company’s General Services Division.
Course construction began in July, 1966 and the first round of golf was played on August 28, 1968 by a “fivesome” of Edmund F. Martin, Stewart S. Cort, Vincent J. Pazzetti, Jr. and George A. Hurd, all Bethlehem officials, and Ralph Hutchison, the Club’s golf professional.
In 1970, the former stone guest house was converted into the clubhouse locker room.
The same year, the course name was changed to Bent Creek Golf Course, after the Bents and the Saucon Creek which winds through it (Saucon is derived from an Indian word, “sakuwit” or “sakung,” which means “at the mouth of the creek”). The name reverted to The Weyhill Course in 1972.
With the conversion of its guest quarters, The Elms, into a private residence, Bethlehem refurbished the Weyhill Guest House for its use as a business meeting and entertainment center beginning in 1974.
In 1995, Saucon Valley Country Club purchased the golf course from Bethlehem, and moved the locker facilities and clubhouse to the former residence of the herdsman. At that time, the former stone guest house was restored to the original bedroom configuration and Bethlehem Steel Corporation continued to use the Weyhill Guest House as it had since 1974.
In 2002, Saucon Valley Country Club purchased the Weyhill Guest House “to add a final jewel to the crown!” Today, the Saucon Valley Guest House at Weyhill retains the original charm and beauty that welcomed its first visitors over two hundred years ago. In an era of expanding development, it serves as an oasis of traditional hospitality that refreshes the body and spirit of SVCC members and their guests.