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Centered around a historic home built in 1906 by German Evangelicals, this historic district serves as a reminder of a community known as "German Town." In addition to funding hospitals and helping orphans, the German Evangelicals in this community sought to help members within their own faith. Pastors usually made little money, so pastors' homes like this allowed them to live in private residences towards the end of their lives. The Pastors' Home also survives as a reminder of the German-immigrant enclave that emerged during the late nineteenth century. They not only practiced a religion that was unique from other Blue Springs residents, they spoke German, differed socially and culturally, and supported the Republican Party in an area and time when Democratic political leaders often had tremendous power. The political and cultural differences occasionally created tensions between those in "German Town" and the broader community.

One of the homes that make up the German Evangelical Pastors' Home Historic District

One of the homes that make up the German Evangelical Pastors' Home Historic District

The establishment in 1906 of a home for indigent pastors and their families by the German Evangelical Church speaks to the development of a German-speaking religious enclave in Blue Springs, Missouri. The German community emerged as Blue Springs' first new cultural group since the early "Scotch-Irish Southerners" established the community during the 1830s. Though the German Evangelicals mainly got along with the rest of the community, tensions arose due to language, cultural, and political differences, including during World War I. The Pastors' Home itself grew out of a church philosophy of providing social aid and helping the community, including those within their congregation. The church built the retirement community to help pastors and families who did not earn enough to support their families after they died or during old age. 

During the mid-nineteenth century, an abundance of Germans, primarily descendants of the Church of the Prussian Union, migrated to the Mississippi Valley. Most arrived with a distrust of ecclesiastical authority and church doctrine. With its philosophy of dually operating as a place of faith and supporting the community -- a new approach to social welfare, the new German evangelical church proliferated. For instance, the church established in St. Louis a hospital and a home for orphans during the 1860s, managed by an independent, non-denominational board of trustees, which attracted support from a wide range of philanthropically-minded persons. 

In Blue Springs during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, German Evangelicals came from Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Italy, along with first-generation Americans of European parents. They formed an enclave that became known as German Town. The unique nature of the German Evangelical Pastors' Home stems from the German Evangelical Church's concept of Kirchenverein or "Church Society," the same philosophy that inspired the church development in St. Louis. The principles included addressing the practical needs of those within their congregation. Early in the church's history, the problem of poverty arose in the ranks of pastors' families. Salaries of pastors proved exceedingly low and did not provide for the needs of those advancing in age. As well, pioneer ministers usually had large families to support, so providing for their widows and orphans required attention. As a result, the church built retirement facilities that allowed pastors and their families to live out their elderly years rent-free in private residences within a familiar and Christian setting, thus avoiding the stigma of living in poverty at a government or charity-funded location; no other such institution in any Protestant denomination in the United States established such an institution. The first homes appeared in 1906, grew to six cottages and one duplex in 1926, and finally thirteen cottages and the duplex by 1937. 

As a separate community, the German Evangelical Pastors' Home residents enjoyed formal and informal relations with the people of Blue Springs and the residents of nearby Lake Tapawingo. The Trustees established the tradition of "Blue Springs Sunday." Meanwhile, teenagers from Blue Springs routinely attended parties held in "German Town," where German food, dancing, and homemade wine & beer provided a different type of social and cultural atmosphere than found within the community at large.

Still, even into the 1920s, the Pastors' retirement community remained mainly separated from the town. Blue Springs grew as a predominately Protestant and agricultural community comprised of English and Scotch-Irish heritage, many of whom owned slaves before the Civil War. In short, Blue Springs remained "Southern" in its orientation and institutions. Indeed, Blue Springs residents largely remained loyal to the Southern cause and the role their families had played during the Civil War. In contrast, German-speaking Evangelicals supported the Republican Party, which played an essential role in the state's anti-slavery movement.

World War I created more tensions between those in German Town and the rest of Blue Springs. German Evangelicals conducted church services and business meetings in German, leading many to question their loyalty to the U.S. Moreover, German Lutherans of the Missouri Synod vehemently demanded the U.S. remain neutral during the war, and German Evangelicals were deemed guilty by association (though they did not embrace German Lutheran philosophies). The increase in anti-German sentiment (found throughout the nation) led to occasional acts of hostility toward the residents of the Pastors' Home. For instance, vandals painted one residence outside "German Town'' (owned by a German-speaking couple) in "Kaiser Yellow." Meanwhile, a teenage boy residing at the Pastors' Home was tarred and feathered after refusing to salute the flag.

Anderson, Kristen Layne. Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in Nineteenth-Century America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016.

Burnett Robyn and Ken Luebbering. German Settlement in Missouri: New Land, Old Ways. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996.

Schwenk, Sarah F. "Registration Form: German Evangelical Pastors' Home Historic District." National Register of Historic Places. 1988.

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