In 2008, the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA® purchased an 1889 Victorian townhouse in DC’s historic Penn Quarter neighborhood to establish the first national German-American Heritage Museum. This building was originally known as “Hockemeyer Hall” after its builder John Hockemeyer, who constructed it as a residence for himself as well as a clubhouse. In the 1890s it served a wide variety of organizations and fraternal groups, including a German technological society and the “Jolly Fat Man Club”. The building is also rumored to have contained one of the early bowling alleys in Victorian Washington.
John Hockemeyer was a German immigrant who came to the United States in 1858. After serving in the Civil War, Hockemeyer became a wealthy merchant dealing in the grocery, coffee roasting, and meat businesses, thus becoming a leader in Washington, D.C.’s prosperous German-American community.