Location in Litchfield County, Connecticut
|Region||Central Naugatuck Valley|
|• Type||Selectman-town meeting|
|• First selectman||Leonard Assard|
|• Total||19.7 sq mi (51.0 km2)|
|• Land||19.4 sq mi (50.1 km2)|
|• Water||0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)|
|Elevation||860 ft (262 m)|
|• Density||185/sq mi (72/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0213391|
Bethlehem is a town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 3,422 at the 2000 census. The town center was designated in the 2000 census as a census-designated place (CDP).
The town's name has prompted thousands of visitors each December to mail their Christmas cards at the local post office in order to get a "Bethlehem" postmark. The post office also has nearly 100 Christmas-related stamps for customers to decorate their envelopes during the holiday season.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 19.7 square miles (51 km2), of which 19.4 square miles (50 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (1.53%) is water. The census-designated place (CDP) corresponding to the town center has a total area of 8.1 square miles (21 km2), of which 7.8 square miles (20 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (3.35%) is water.
At the eastern side of town is a ridge called "the Devil's Backbone", one of more than 30 Connecticut places named after the devil.
At the 2010 census Bethlehem had a population of 3,607. The racial composition of the population was 97.9% white, 0.4% black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.2% from some other race and 0.9% from two or more races. 1.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
At the 2000 census, there were 3,422 people, 1,246 households and 935 families residing in the town. The population density was 176.8 per square mile (68.2/km²). There were 1,388 housing units at an average density of 71.7 per square mile (27.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.49% White, 0.26% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.38% from other races and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.64% of the population.
There were 1,246 households of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.7% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.9% were non-families. 19.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.11.
25.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 30.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.
The median household income was $68,542 and the median family income was $78,863. Males had a median income of $51,623 compared with $37,500 for females. The per capita income was $29,672. About 0.5% of families and 2.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.
At the 2000 census, there were 2,022 people, 773 households and 555 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 259.3 per square mile (100.1/km²). There were 879 housing units at an average density of 112.7 per square mile (43.5/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 97.63% White, 0.25% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.54% from other races and 0.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.74% of the population.
There were 773 households of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.5% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.1% were non-families. 22.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.07.
24.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 30.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.
The median household income was $65,966 and the median family income was $76,048. Males had a median income of $52,862 compared with $34,792 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $28,925. None of the families and 2.7% of the population were living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and 9.8% of those over 64.
|Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 25, 2005|
|Party||Active voters||Inactive voters||Total voters||Percentage|
- Waterbury Republican-American - an independent daily newspaper.
- Voices - a local newspaper serving Southbury, Middlebury, Oxford, Seymour, Naugatuck, Woodbury, Bethelhem, New Preston, Washington, Washington Depot, Roxbury, Bridgewater, Monroe, Sandy Hook and Newtown.
- Macaroni Kid - an events calendar for families in Bridgewater, Roxbury, Bethlehem, Woodbury, Southbury, Oxford, Watertown, Oakville, Middlebury, Waterbury and western Naugatuck.
Points of interest
- Bellamy-Ferriday House and Garden, built in 1760 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
- The Bethlehem Green Historic District contains 63 properties and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
- Old Bethlehem Historical Society Museum
Abbey of Regina Laudis
The town is home to the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis, founded in 1947, one of the first houses of contemplative Benedictine nuns in the United States. Robert Leather, a Protestant industrialist, donated 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land on which the convent is located. The convent now has 37 nuns.
The Abbey is known for its commitment to the arts, especially the performance of Gregorian Chant. The acting background of Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., has prompted the convent to sponsor annual summer theatre productions.
Hart has worked with fellow artists, including James and Dawn Douglas, to found The Act Association, a group that performs at The Gary-The Olivia Theater, an open-air venue which seats about 200 people. Built in 1982 with the help of actress Patricia Neal, this open-air theater seats about 200 people. Productions have included plays by Shakespeare, Sartre, opera and musical reviews. Patricia Neal and James Douglas appeared in She Stoops to Conquer in 1999.
Connecticut Garlic and Harvest Festival 
Bethlehem Fair 
- Christine Baranski, actress, and her husband, the actor and playwright, Matthew Cowles.
- Joseph Bellamy (1719–1790), an influential Congregationalist theologian in the 18th century, was pastor at the Congregational church in town for 50 years, until his death.
- Dolores Hart, a former actress who appeared with Elvis Presley, became a Roman Catholic nun at the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in town, ultimately becoming head (or "prioress") of the convent. Her formal title now is the Reverend Mother Dolores Hart.
- Noella Marcellino, an American Benedictine nun who has earned a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Connecticut, became a Roman Catholic nun at the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in town. She won a Fulbright scholarship to France to collect and examine native strains of fungi from traditional cheese caves, with an emphasis on Geotrichum candidum, and stayed an additional three years, analyzing the samples on a grant from the French government.
- David Leavitt (1791–1879), New York City banker, financier and art collector, born at Bethlehem to the Connecticut legislator and businessman David Leavitt Sr.
- U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates
- "AAA Connecticut, Massachusetts & Rhode Island Tour Book", 2007, published by the American Automobile Association, page 38
- 2010 population by race and Hispanic or Latino by place chart for Connecticut from the US Census
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 25, 2005" (PDF). Connecticut Secretary of State. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-10-02.
- "The Cult of the Cloves". New York Times. September 29, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2010. "This weekend brings the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival to Orange, Mass., near Amherst, and the Easton Garlic Fest to Easton, Pa. The Connecticut Garlic and Harvest Festival visits Bethlehem on Oct. 9 and 10."
- Town government Web site
- History page on the town Web site
- Northwest Connecticut Arts Council
- Abbey of Regina Laudis website
- Bethlehem's Christmas Festival website
- Macaroni Kid
- Northwest Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Northwestern Connecticut Community College in Winsted
- Old Bethlehem Historical Society Museum
- Regional School District No. 14 and Nonnewaug High School
- The Woodhall School Homepage
- The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England, a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan