at Hermann, Missouri

where Missouri's German past
comes alive!

Tours begin at the Office
109 West Second Street
Hermann, Missouri 65041
10:00 AM, 12:30 and 2:30 PM

School, Group, and Bus Tours
are our Specialty

German-speaking guide by prior arrangement

Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Division of State Parks

Step into
Missouri's German Past

Recreated 1830s-1840s garden filled with heritage flowers, rare vegetables, and other traditional plantings, set amid period woven fencing and straw beehives.

Museum Shop: featuring a wide range of imports and German Americana, Christmas gifts, reproductions of Springerle molds from German museums, children's toys and books, material for genealogists and history buffs, cookbooks, and guides for crafters.

Ground-floor Print Shop: wedding customs, pottery, kitchen ways and tools, and items of everyday German American life.

Half-timbered Barn: exhibits of gardening and other tools and 19th Century country ways.

The Pommer-Gentner House and the Strehly House and Winery, featuring extensive collections of authentic furnishings, personal possessions, porcelains and silver, and interior decorations

Special Events:

Maifest: Craft demonstrations and an array of activities and events at Deutschheim and throughout the town. Third weekend in May.

Oktoberfest: Three weekends of activities, with the Arts & Crafts Show on the second weekend. Deutschheim features various German crafts.

Weihnachtsfest: The Christmas Festival at Deutschheim. Traditional baked goodies, music, authentic table trees with period decorations, antique toys on display, and special items in the Shop. Held at the same time as Hermann's Kriskindlmarkt. First weekend in December.

The Deutschheim Verein: The museum's Friends Group sponsors children's activities during Maifest, Oktoberfest, and Weihnachtsfest. The Verein invites you to join them in promoting a greater understanding of 19th C. German American contributions. Call for information and a free copy of the Verein's quarterly journal of German culture and daily life, Der Maibaum.

Other events are often scheduled. For information on these and other museum happenings,
call the Office at (573) 486-2200
or FAX us at (573) 486-2249

Deutschheim (Deutsch = German, Heim = home), the name chosen for the site, was a term used by early German writers to describe 1 820s-1850s Missouri. The region extending from St. Louis west to Boonville on the Missouri River, plus areas along the Mississippi, especially around Perry and Ste. Genevieve Counties, became the new homeland of thousands of German immigrants in the 19th Century. Pockets of settlement occurred south and west of Sedalia, around Concordia, and in the southwest corner of Missouri. St. Louis and Kansas City experienced major German settlement. By 1860 over half of Missouri's foreign-born residents were German. Today at least 50% of Missourians claim at least one grandparent of German ancestry.

Germans from all walks of life left their homeland to come to the United States, to Missouri's great benefit. Some were highly educated professionals and university graduates at a time when very few people achieved that distinction anywhere: professors, physicians, scientists, lawyers, merchants, ministers, musicians, and artists. Most who came were not of the middle classes, and opted to leave their homeland because of collapsing rural economies in which jobs were destroyed and countless farm laborers and artisans were thrown out of work. Nearly every one of them tried to reestablish in the new land that which had been most valued in the old.

It was a risky and brave jump into the unknown, especially in the early period (1830-1850) when Missouri was still primarily a frontier with vast tracts of heavily forested and unpopulated land.

Missouri owes an enormous debt to her thousands of German immigrants. Middle class Germans established schools, libraries, institutions of higher learning, newspapers, a wide variety of cultural opportunities, and a variety of successful businesses and industrial concerns. German peasants opened up the land and created prosperous farms and villages where wilderness had existed, on land that many Anglo Americans had avoided because it was regarded as substandard. The advanced farming techniques of rural Germans proved them wrong. Many peasants wrote home about their good fortune and were joined in Missouri by friends and relatives. Whenever possible the newcomers settled close together with others from their old country neighborhoods, making enclaves of the Old World in the New where German regional customs and variants of language were preserved for generations.

Deutschheim State Historic Site was created in 1979 to preserve, protect, and share Missouri's German and German American culture, heritage, crafts, folkways, foodways, life styles, and traditions with visitors. Deutschheim opened to the public in 1984 and has been undergoing continual growth and development ever since.

Time Travel:
The Pommer-Gentner House
& the Strehly House and Winery

Begun within a couple of years of each other, the two houses represent different building traditions. Caroline Pommer's 1840 house is an example of high-style German Klassizismus (Neoclassicism); it differs from the more familiar and widespread Greek Revival in its restraint and austerity of design. Many early middle-class German settlers chose Klassizismus for their houses.

On the other hand, Carl Procopius Strehly's house, built in stages from 1842 to 1869, has a fne traditional German vernacular front and is representatuve of later 19th c. German brick buildings constructed throughout the Midwest. The Strehly complex was the site of a renowned German language newspaper, written by University of Leipzig graduate Eduard Muehl, which vehemently opposed slavery years before this became a popular cause in the 1850s. The Hermann City Council began to actively encourage wine production in the 1840s. Muehl and Strehly began to plant wine grapes, and Strehly built his winery in the 1850s. Wine became the basis of a large 19th Century industry which has been successfully revived in recent years.

The Pommer-Gentner House is furnished for the 1830s-1840s with imported porcelains, Biedermeier furniture, and original artwork; the Strehly House for the comfortable 1860s-1880s. The Winery and the Print Shop hold folk arts, crafts, and traditions displays. The gardens contain rare heritage plants, some of which are occasionally offered for sale. Contact the office for information on available plants and seeds.

Hermann: A German-built Village

In the 1830s when several immigrant groups selected Missouri as their choice of a new home, one association bought land in Gasconade County. The resulting Hermann Colony was the most systematic and best organized of Missouri's seven German settlement societies. Founded by the Deutsche Ansiedlungs-Gesellschaft zu Philadelphia (German Settlement Society of Philadelphia), it was the only one organized in this country, the only one set up as a joint-stock company, and was widely advertised on both sides of the Atlantic. It drew colonists from throughout the eastern United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The Society planned to be culturally integrated and self supporting, almost like a little country, with town lots and forty acre farms redeemable for shares of stock. Construction began in 1838 and the founders expected that a new Germany in the New World would quickly arise.

While the New Germany was never achieved in Hermann or any other part of the U.S., the German language has been the first one spoked by many Missourians right up into the 1950s. Before farming became industrialized, travelers always knew when they had come to a German American district by the barns and the distinctive haystacks. Workers in some indiustries and in dairies and gardens wore wooden shoes as recently as the 1960s. Once even windmills could be found in some places, and half-timbered buildings are still common. Other traditions have lasted: foods like home-made wurst (sausages) and the making of sauerkraut, wine, beer, and Christmas cookies like Lebkuchen and Springerle are still part of the lives of many German Americans.

  Return to Max Kade/SGAS Home Page

Created for the Deutschheim State Hisoric Site: 4 August 1997, JAF
Updated: 16 November 2007, BAS
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