German Orphan Home

The General German Orphans Home was designed by Architect George A. Frederick (Prominent German Architect that designed many significant buildings of that era, including Baltimore City Hall).  See the website
The General German Orphans Home 1905

The ‘Home’ is the oldest of its kind in Baltimore and still exists today.  The project began in 1863 when Martin Kratt, pastor of the German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church appealed to the German population of Baltimore.  On July 12, 1863, it was organized and founded as the German Protestant Orphan Association of the City of Baltimore.  The name was changed in 1866 to make it non-secular, feeling that the home would receive greater support.  This change invited the entire German population to embrace and befriend the home regardless of creed, which they did.


The reports of the home were printed in German until 1896 when the reports appeared both in English and German.  Around 1921 the reports were done in English only. 


The original site of the home was at 69 Pratt Street near Canal (Central Avenue).  It opened on July 12, 1863.  They soon outgrew this facility and moved to 69 North Calvert Street. The move was made in July 1867.  One of the reports that year indicated that their were 43 children, 30 of school age (22 boys and 8 girls).  At that time the children attended the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church School.  Later they would also attend the Scheib School and Knapp’s.  When the districts opened the English-German schools, most would attend the public schools.   Later in the early 20s, many of the children attended public high schools.  The first boy graduated from Catonsville High School in 1926. The address for the home in the Weishampel's Baltimore Guide in 1896 (pg. 83) lists Aisquith near Orleans.


Some important provisions within the 1866 constitution:

  1. The purpose of the orphanage is to admit needy and derserving orphans of both sexes, without regard to creed, of German ancestry (the grandparents from the father’s or mother’s side must have been born in Germany).
  2. Half-orphans (those who had a living mother or father) would be admitted by decree of the board of directors.
  3. The name shall be ‘The General German Orphan Asylum of the City of Baltimore’.  It will continue that name.
  4. Both German and English will be taught, however, German will remain the official language of the house.
  5. All children admitted will not be less than two years, nor more than ten years.
  6. When the children become fourteen, they will leave the Home and the Board of Directors shall see that the boys are placed properly with tradesmen or businessmen, which will accept them as apprentices.  Girls will be placed as domestics or choose an honorable career.
  7. Boys stay under the supervision of the house until the age of 21; girls 18.
  8. A board of 25 (which still exists)


The Home was kept liquid by the contributions of the many German organizations in the area at that time.  All organizations which were members of the General German Orphan Asylum would remit 5 cents per quarter for each member they had on their books.  If the contributions were not sufficient to maintain the home, the clubs could be assessed.   Eventually collectors were established for specific districts and they would collect individual membership dues.  This practice was discontinued when checks evolved and most members mailed their dues.


There were several committees established.  One which was an important position was that of inspector.  The home was inspected/visited by the inspection committee twice a week. 


The home was struck with a scarlet fever outbreak around 1870.  The children couldn’t be separated so the healthy and the sick lived together.  The results were nineteen children infected, two died.  The home always had wonderful medical care provided by several physicians.


They outgrew their Calvert Street location and in 1872, bought the property belonging to the Carmelite Sisters on Aisquith Street.  The building was not suited for a children’s home so a new building was erected.  It was ready for the children in 1874.  It is interesting to note that on each of these moves, the home created debt.  In the 1888 Baltimore City Business Directory the Home was listed at Aisquith Street near Orleans.  The debt was in large part eliminated by the actions of the Ladies’ Sewing Society and the Ladies’ Auxiliary (1898), located at the same address according to the 1888 Directory.  The two groups merged in 1925.    They held multiple fund raisers and in almost all of the moves help to eliminate or lessen the mortgage burden. 


Their next move was the move to Catonsville.  The estate ‘Belmont’, which was the estate of Talbot Albert was purchased.  The property consisted of 44 acres.  Walter Gieske was the architect in 1920.  By 1924, the children had been relocated to Catonsville.  Over the next few decades other buildings were added.  A new cottage was added due to the generosity of Ferdinand Meyer; a swimming pool was added due to the generosity of Mrs. Adele Von Heine-Wilcox and in the late 50s, due to the generosity of Henry Herzinger, who had served as president of the home for many years, a recreational building was added. 


The home still exists today.  The name has been changed to ‘The Children’s Home’.  See their website for information:
Was your ancestor an orphan?


Their physical location is still in Catonsville:

The Children's Home

205 Bloomsbury Ave.

Catonsville, MD 21228

PH: 410-744-7310

FAX 410-455-0071


The Presidents of the General German Orphan Home in Baltimore:


Johann Christian Krantz                                    1863-

Gustav Facius                                                   1870-1875

John Lorz                                                         1887-1891

John C. Johannesen                                          1918-1925       (A former ward of the home)

Henry Herzinger                                               1925-1955


The Superintendents of the General German Orphan Home in Baltimore:


Mr. & Mrs. Friedrich Gleichmann                     1866-1879

Mr. H.L. Lang                                                  1881-1892

Mr. & Mrs. Carl Schmied                                 1894-1922

Mr. & Mrs. Wiley                                            1935-1955

Mr. J. W. Eisenhauer                                        1955-1960

Mr. & Mrs. Harold T. McTeer             1960-


The Physicians of the General German Orphan Home in Baltimore:


Dr. Friedrich Hess

Dr. Frank C. Bressler (attended the home for more than forty years)

Dr. Joseph I. Kemler

Dr. Wetherbee Fort

Dr. Fred Andreae

Dr. Raymond E. Lenhard
CATHOLIC ORPHANAGE:  Also, note that there was, beginning in 1847 a Catholic orphanage, St. Andrew's that was under the direction of SSND sisters that began with two children of German parentage.  In 1854 the Redemptorists opened the facility at Central Avenue and Eden Street.  This too, was an orphanage for German children.  I found a link that listed those children that were inmates in 1900.  I did not transcribe this census.  The transcriber was Lynn Beatty for the Orphan's Home Website.  Click here to view.  The 1888 Baltimore Business Directory lists ST. ANTHONY (German) Orphan Asylum at Central Avenue between Chew (Ashland) and Eager Sts. This could be one and the same. 

HEBREW ORPHANAGE:  There was also a Hebrew Orphan Asylum listed in Weishampel's Baltimore Guide in 1896 at Calverton Heights.