Hebrew Orphan Home

The Nation's Oldest Jewish Orphanage

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum was built in 1876. The orphanage actually began operations in 1872 at the Calverton Mansion. It was founded by German Jewish immigrants. The land was donated by Mr. & Mrs. William Rayner. It was located at Rayner Avenue near Dukeland in the Calverton area. Initially it sheltered thirty two children. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1874 and with donations from wealthy Jewish citizens the orphanage was built. The building was the work of Edward Lupus (German architect) and Henry Roby. In 1904 an addition was made to the asylum known as the Hannah U. Cahn Memorial, erected by the late Bernard Cahn in memory of his wife. It is used as a gymnasium.

The Orphanage was closed in 1923. It became West Baltimore General Hospital (1923-1945) and later was known as Lutheran Hospital of Maryland (1945-1989) (where this writer was born).

The building was listed on the US National Register of Historic Places on October 28, 2010. The Baltimore Heritage, a nonprofit historic preservation organization made the nomination. It was also this group that took the preservation of the building to the next level, when 'Friends of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum' was founded. Today the building has been restored for adaptive reuse as a health center for the residents of that area.

While researching area orphanages, I found the officers and Superintendent of the Hebrew Orphan Society. For the most part, the officers and past Presidents and Superintendents were German. I pulled the 1900 census so I could do for the Hebrew home as we have done for the German Orphanage, Augsburg and St. Andrews. I was surprised to learn that there were very few children of German heritage residing in this home. See nativity chart below. Of the 68 children residents in 1900:

First Chairman-Emanuel Hess


1. J. Ulman

2. Joel Gutman

3. William Schloss

4. M. J. Oppenheimer

5. David Hutzler

6. Leon Lauer

7. Sidney Lansburg

Rev. Samuel Freudenthal

Superintendents:1. Rev. Herffman

2. Rev. Gabriel

3. Rev. A. Sonn

4. Rev. Samuel Freudenthal (1885): Rev. Freudenthal was born in 1841 in Germany and died June 1, 1910 in Baltimore. He was married to Adaline and together they had two daughters. He is buried at the Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery.

Source: The Jews of Baltimore, by Isidor Blum (Historical Review Publishing Company), 1910; 1900 U.S. Federal Census Records; Weishampel's Baltimore Guide in 1896 at Calverton Heights; Wikipedia.