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Blake Pontchartrain: The German Protestant Orphan Asylum 

On the State Street Children’s Home in Uptown

click to enlarge This residence originally was built in 1881 as a stable at the German Protestant Orphan Asylum.

Photo by Kandace Power Graves

This residence originally was built in 1881 as a stable at the German Protestant Orphan Asylum.

Hey Blake,

There was an orphanage somewhere around State Street Uptown that may have been the German Lutheran Home. Do you have any information about its history?

Christel

Dear Christel,

  The German Protestant Orphan Asylum was established by a group of Lutheran ministers in the late 1800s to care for German orphans. It was one  of three such facilities established in the city to care for children who lost their parents to epidemic or the Civil War. Though its physical address was 920 State St., the facility consisted of several buildings on property bounded by State, Camp, Chestnut and Webster streets.

  According to John F. Nau's book The German People of New Orleans, Pastor Ludwig Heintz helped form a group to run the home and purchase the State Street property for the sum of $18,000. According to Nau, the facility was dedicated on June 2, 1867. An 1878 article in The Times-Picayune mentioned 49 boys and 41 girls living there at that time, ranging from infants to teenagers. According to The Historic New Orleans Collection, which now houses records from the asylum, the facility was run on a volunteer basis by a board of directors. Financial support came from donations and fundraisers organized by a Ladies' Aid Society. One of the biggest was the annual "Volksfest" which was held on both the orphanage grounds and at Southern Park near Bayou St. John. A 1915 mention of the festival said its hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew), potato salad and imported frankfurters "sold with remarkable rapidity."

  By the 1960s, the facility had changed its name to the State Street Children's Home, and the orphanage closed in the late 1970s. The land was sold and divided into residential lots. Proceeds from the sale were invested and used to create the GPOA Foundation, which continues to support local children's programs. Only one structure from the original complex survives: a building at 919 Webster St., which was built as a stable in 1881 and redeveloped into a private residence.

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