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Deutsches Emigrantenhaus

German Immigrant House
1308 Beason Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

According to a Sunpaper article written on November 29, 1899, the German Immigrant House would open in Locust Point in the Spring of 1900.  Actually, the cornerstone was laid on June 5, 1904 and the house was completed and opened later that year.  The house was built next to the Deutsche Vereinigte Evangelische Christus Kirche (German United Evangelical Church of Christ) and the focus of the house was the care of immigrants. Many immigrants passed through the doors.  Germans comprised the majority, but they also housed Polish, Irish and other Europeans.  It was under the supervision of the German Evangelical Synod of North America.  Initially the house was developed to address the spiritual needs of the immigrants as well as housing for those in need.  The house still stands and has been partially converted into a museum of Baltimore Immigration history.   The Baltimore Immigration Museum celebrated its ribbon cutting and grand opening on May 1, 2016.   The church, now the Locust Point Community Church, has provided the space for the museum.   

Establishing a house here was very important as Locust Point became one of the major immigration points after the Civil War.  The arrivals in 1866-67 alone jumped from 4,000 to 10,000.  In fact, over 1.2 million European immigrants disembarked near this site (piers six through nine), as part of the ‘Great Wave’ of immigration from 1868 to 1914.

Immigrants had difficulty finding suitable living quarters in Locust Point and the surrounding areas.   It wasn’t uncommon for the immigrants to find their way to the saloons in the area and pay to live in the worst of conditions. 

The Immigrant House was used by Germans arriving in Locust Point as ‘transitional living’, moving on when suitable housing was found.  It was not a house for paupers or homeless.  In fact, the immigrants paid a small rental fee.   It was sliding scale based on what a person could afford and the monies collected were used to keep the house operating.  No profit was made on the house.   The salary of those running the house was paid in part by a fund established by the mission board for the purpose of establishing the home.  The fund was known as the Kumper fund.

The house was divided into two sections, one for women and one for men.  There were 20+ bedrooms, a kitchen and three bathrooms.  Reverend O. Apitz  (who died in Oct. 1918) was the superintendent and was assisted by his wife, who took care of the women’s section.

The building and operation of the German Immigrant House provided the immigrating Germans with an element of protection they did not have before the house was built.   The house welcomed all immigrants, not just those from Germany. 

Through the tireless efforts of Brigitte Fessenden, 2016 President of the Museum, and the Baltimore Immigration Memorial, Inc. board of directors[1], the house is now in the process of renovation.  Without the partnership of the church, the museum would still be the Board’s dream.  The Fessenden’s, Brigitte and her husband Nick (Treasurer of the museum), have worked diligently on the project for several years.  Both are amply qualified and have done their research.  Brigitte, a German immigrant, is a historic preservation consultant and Nick, a retired history teacher, Friends School, has been published in German Life on the subject of immigration.  This along with the passion for the project, shared by the Fessendens and the museum board of directors, should make this a Baltimore tour stop. 

It is a step by step process.  The museum opened upon the completion of two rooms.  It is the hopes of the museum that the upstairs sleeping rooms renovated for public view.  The House currently has only a few artifacts.  They also search for stories of immigrants coming through and using the facility.  If you have a story or if you believe you may have something the museum could use in one of their exhibits, please contact the museum.  The website is http://www.immigrationbaltimore.org/.  You may email at bim@immigrationbaltimore.org. You may also  email this website (germanmarylanders@gmail.com) and it will be forwarded to the museum.

After having served 3710 immigrants during its operation between 1904 and 1915, the immigrant house closed its doors in 1916, when the US entered World War I.   The time of mass immigration from Germany and Europe had come to an end. 

The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Click here to see photos of the Museum's Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Opening (May 2016)



Pier 9 Immigration House

Another boarding house in the area was on Pier 9 in Locust Point.  The boarding house was run by Ms. Augusta Koether and she was paid $.75 (seventy five cents) per day by the shipping company. 

Baltimore’s rank in European immigration follows the ports of New York and Boston. 

Have information or a story about a German immigrant to Maryland?  If you have any information you would like to add, please contact German Marylanders at germanmarylanders@gmail.com

 

 



[1] 2016 Board of Directors: Brigitte V. Fessenden, President; Mary Zimmerman, past President; JoAnn Best, Secretary ; Joseph J. Klosek, Vice President ; Dr. Nicholas Fessenden, Treasurer; Tad Hogan, Webmaster; Peter A. Fillat; Brian A. Schwartz; Ron Zimmerman, President Emeritus and founder of organization (1994)

 

 


 

 

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