Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts
“Feeling is first,” says the poet cummings.
And the feeling that lover of birds Jennie Gilrain felt when the appearance of construction fences made demolition of the Masonic Temple a stark reality was fear.
Fear for the Swifts that nest in the Temple chimney.
But “good things started to happen,” Jennie exults, when she made contact with the developer family — John, Lynn, and daughter Casey Noble (a second daughter Bailey is now living in Los Angeles but will also be involved in the project).
Jennie “made me aware of the Swifts,” admitted John.
“We really had no idea!” says Lynn.
The Noble family became ready co-conspirators with Jennie in a project to save the Swifts.
John, a self-employed business man, and Lynn, a fine art photographer and writer, met while John was at Lehigh, Lynn at DeSales. Casey is Project Manager for Elevate Construction, and Bailey is an actress who also owns her own business.
John bought the Wilbur Mansion/Masonic Temple property in 2016, “without a plan, but knowing that with the right preservation we could create a gateway focal point for Bethlehem.” Gadfly, like you probably, has eagerly followed the changing plans for the site since then through stories in the local media. John last appeared here in the blog last February, just before the pandemic slowed things down. He is now breaking ground for a development that combines apartment living with hotel, restaurant, and event space.
“My first big commitment to preservation came in 2008,” John recalls, “when I was able to work with my neighbors to acquire 45 acres stretching along a mile of the Saucon Creek. We worked with the Wildlands Conservancy and Lower Saucon, raising some of the funding to prevent its development and blanket the land with a conservation easement.”
“The wildlife along this land is absolutely amazing,” John exclaims.
“Nature is what inspires almost everything we do,” Lynn explains. “We have always been concerned with protecting the land and the wildlife around us. I can tell you many, many stories about how our family has saved countless animals . . . deer, fox, possums, rabbits, geese, ducks, and many different varieties of birds! We even caused an uproar with the Bethlehem Board of Health the time we rescued a fox!”
“We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected,” Lynn promises.
“I’m big into birds,” assures John.
Gadfly hears the Swifts sigh with relief.
Along with Jennie.
The Nobles’ new building
to be continued . . .