Philadelphia has been justly noted for its many charitable and benevolent institutions. Among these the “Orphans’ Home and Asylum for the Aged and Infirm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Germantown” holds a conspicuous place.

The design of founding a Home in Germantown Pennsylvania dates back to 1852, but nothing definite was done until 1858, and on the 18th of March, 1859, the first child was received into a small house on Main street, which, however, soon proved too small and inconvenient. In October of the same year the property on Main street above Carpenter, where the institution now stands, was purchased. It has a front on Main street of 138 feet, and extends back 1075 feet to Cresheim road. The design from the first was to provide a home for destitute orphan children, without regard to creed or country. The first charter is dated June 4, 1860, and was subsequently amended by an Act of Legislature, and the institution exempted from taxation. In 1862 a building was put up for a school and dormitory for the boys.

Lutheran Orphans Home and Asylum Germantown

Postcard depicting the Lutheran Orphans Home and Asylum Germantown

When so many children were made orphans during the late war, this institution was among the first to open its doors for these soldiers’ orphans, and 98 were admitted up to the time when the State provided homes for them. In 1865 the corner stone was laid for a large and suitable building to accommodate at least 80 children, which was finished in 1866 at a cost of $30,000. Although at times under clouds, the institution has prospered and grown more in favor with the Lutheran Church and community at large. In 1879 a building 140 feet long and 40 feet wide, with wings at the ends of 60 feet, was erected for the accommodation of the old and infirm, and was occupied May 1, 1880, after its cost of $20,000 had been raised by voluntary contributions, so that no debt remained. The grounds and buildings have been much improved during late years. Fronting on Main street is about an acre of well-kept lawn, dotted with flower-beds and planted with fruit trees. In the rear is a kitchen garden of about 2 acres, where all the vegetables needed for the institution are raised, with the exception of potatoes. The garden, with the help of one hired man and the assistance of the older boys under the management of the superintendent, is one of the best-cultivated gardens in Germantown.

Memorial Home for Infants

Memorial Home for Infants

The asylum for the old people is of brick with basement, two stories and mansard roof and is heated throughout by steam. It contains a large diningroom, chapel, parlor, two sitting-rooms, and thirty-five bed-rooms. Each inmate has a room to himself. A special feature are two porches, each one hundred feet long and twelve wide, sheltered for east, west, and north, and facing the lawn.

The orphanage is a stone building sixty feet square with a basement, three stories and attic. The basement contains the children’s dining-room, playroom, kitchen, laundry and bath-room. The latter is so arranged that the children can learn to swim. The first floor is occupied by the main schoolroom, superintendent’s dining-room and office, and the parlor; the next has the kindergarten, superintendent’s and assistant’s bed-room, and the sewing-room, and on the third are the children’s dormitories. The building has three separate stairways from the basement to the dormitories, and in addition is provided with a regular fire escape on the outside. The play ground is large where the children enjoy themselves when they are not at work or in the schoolroom. Of the five hundred and forty-six children received into the Home from the beginning many are now engaged in the various occupations of life. Three of the boys are now pursuing their studies to prepare for the ministry. There are now in the Home fifty-five boys and twenty-five girls. In the Asylum thirty-one have a home, some of whom have nearly reached four score and ten. Thus from a small beginning this institution has grown to a considerable magnitude, and is in a prosperous condition and deserves the support of all kind-hearted and generous people.

While the 1892-1894 annual reports showed the title in English, the later version of the annual reports have the title in German, Jahres-Bericht des Lutherischen Waisenhauses u. Altenheims. Some of the text within each manuscript is also in German, however, the lists of orphans and elderly are always in English.

List of Orphans for 1894

The list below contains only the known list of orphans as reported in the yearbook for 1894. The prior two years yearbooks failed to include any sort of a list of children, though they do list the names of benefactors and what they contributed to the organization. The subsequent years will be extracted over the coming month, as we make our list as complete as possible.