The Deutsches Haus
The Deutsches Haus
The Deutsches Haus was located at 1212 Cathedral Street (corner of Cathedral and Preston) in Baltimore, officially opening on April 4, 1938. It was built in 1890 and was a four story structure costing approximately $400,000. It was built initially to serve the Bryn Mawr School. At that time, the school was the only one with an indoor swimming pool. The building was often compared to the castles that line the Rhine River.
After the purchase of the building by a conglomeration of German clubs, the opening celebration was a huge production beginning with a procession on Howard Street at Lehmann Hall, where choirs and representatives of the German clubs were gathered. The opening was attended by then Governor Nice and Baltimore's Mayor Jackson. It was also not limited to age or socio-eco status, as the young and the professional, students and teachers joined in the dancing the music and the great outdoor Biergarten.
On all the German celebration days, the halls and garden were graced with patrons in traditional native dresses, while feasting on bratwurst, sauerkraut and of course, beer. The crowds were entertained by local artists and troops that danced traditional German dances, such as the Schuhplattler, the shoe slapping dance that Chevy Chase made famous in European vacation. Keep in mind that this area was predominantly German and that much of the entertainment hailed from the Baltimore symphony, founded by Gustav Strube, and the Peabody Conservatory.
Many of the German clubs in the area (numbering at least 23) met and made the Deutsches Haus a gathering and central point for the German-American community.
Patronage began to decline, of course during the escalation of WWII, but other factors led to the demise of the Haus. In fact, numbers began to rise again after the war. However, factors such the murder in 1957 of the Haus President, Heinz Heymann (found at the restaurant within the building), the riots of 1968 and urban flight and the perception that the area was no longer safe were putting the final nails in the Haus coffin.
The Deutsches Haus was spared from demolition in 1962 and 1970, as plans for expansion of the Jones Falls Expressway and plans for a new Boulevard, moved away from the Haus.
The Deutsches Haus closed after New Year’s Eve celebrations, January 1, 1972. The building was sold to Joseph Meyerhoff, President of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Association in 1972 and today is the new Symphony Home.
Some interesting articles:
Deutsches Haus Opens-April 2, 1938
German Haus clubs asked to prove 'Americanism'. The Sunpaper, November 28, 1940, page 28
Fire Board picks Deutsches Haus, ‘The Sunpaper March 7,1969, page A9'
Artist sketch of Deutsches Haus 1972
The Deutsches Haus is sold, The Sunpaper, July 29, 1972, page B20
A Musical Site (Schoolgirls and German Societies Sang Here-Bryn Mawr School 9-12-1982