About the Colony the Americans Built, the Germans Continued, and its Real Estate ValueThe American-German Colony, where you are located, is located between Florentine on the East, Jaffa on the West, and on the way to the sea.
The colony's story start on September 2, 1866, when American settlers arrive to the Jaffa shores on the well-stocked ship, "Nelly Chippin." The beginning in the Holy Land was difficult. Bureaucracy with the Ottomans delayed the purchase of land, and the settlers spent a few months in tents on the Jaffa beach. Many settlers got sick during this time, and nine of them, mostly children, died within those first few weeks. They ate from hand to hand and at the end of 1866 they legally purchased land and built 10 houses on the two streets assigned to their neighborhood, today Auerbach Street and Bar Hoffman Street.
This is how the first half of the colony started in the second half of the 19th century by the Mormon Americans. This is a group of 157 pioneers from the "Messiah Church," who's leader was an eccentric preacher George Adams. This was a Protestant sect that believed the Jewish nation's return to Israel will bring back the Messiah, and establish "A Thousand Year Monarchy." They believed that this will also bring to the recognition of the Jewish community that the Messiah is Jesus.
But the settlers were innocent. They were unable to adapt to the new country and they didn't even have an income. At a certain point they left the country, with the help of a rich traveler who paid for their journey home. A few years later the colony belonged to German Templars, who were expelled from Germany after World War II, and who's houses were owned by the British, and during the establishment of Israel, ownership was transferred to the Israeli government.
In the past few years this colony has undergone restorations and advance renovations. Today, similar to adjacent Neve Tzedek, the American-German colony provides a window to the first settlement of Tel Aviv, prior to the official establishment of the city.
Take a look at a few of the houses from the small neighborhood
Auerbach 4The Eckley Norton House was one of the first wooden houses built by the American settlers. One of the first wooden structures built by the Americans, with wood brought with them from the US on their boat. All these wooded houses were two floors, and the front had a terrace and special woodwork. The house was later purchased by a British Mission, and for many years was the center for its operations. A restaurant used to also be here, the legendary Keren, a barrier breaking Israeli restaurant.
Auerbach 6This is the first brick house built by the group. This was a house with three floors that was built by two brothers, and started out as a Grand Hotel. But when the brothers fell into financial problems, they were forced to sell the property and it went to the new colony residents - the Templars. The hotel's name was later changed to Hotel Jerusalem, used to be one of the best hotels in the country. A fence around its building and a gate, the building number in both English and German, are witnesses to the glory days of the hotel that once was.
The one who upgraded the hotel and put it up to European standards and demands was Ernest Hardage. He turned the hotel into one of the most important hotels in Jaffa. When the Templars left Israel, during World War II, the hotel stopped operating. With the establishment of Israel it moved to government ownership, was neglected, and abandonded in the 1960's. Only during its latest renovation did it become a luxurious apartment building.
Auerbach 8Here is where the Beit Emanuel Hostel is located. This place used to be Hoffman's wooden home, who was one of the the Templar pioneers. Later the building was purchased by Platon von Ustinov, a Russian Baron that turned it into a big hotel name "Du Park" in the late 19th century. The German Emperor Wilhelm II slept here during his visit in 1898, the same visit where he met Benjamin Theodore Herzl.
The impressive banyan tree are what is left from the impressive hotel gardens that included among its plants tropical plants and different animals, like parrots and monkeys. Sit under the tree and look across, at the Immanuel Church built in 1904 in the Neo-Gothic style.
Auerbach 10This house has a really unbelievable story. This was the Frank House, belonging to the Frank Templar family. Originally that house was built by the Wentworth family from the US. In 2002 the house was purchased, due to its abandoned statues, by an American couple named Jane and Reed Holmes. During the restoration work on the house, Reed Holmes discovered the initials of the person who brought the wood from the US originally. Holmes, who wrote the book about the colony's history and knew by heart all the members of the colony, was surprised to find out he had bought his own family's original home!
The couple established on the ground floor the "Maine Friendship House" - a sort of museum where you can see different items that were used by the original settlers.
Bar Hoffman 16At the Floyd House here used to live Rolla Floyd. Him and his wife lost their child during the first few weeks in the country, but stayed in the colony and built their home. Floyd turned out to be a glorious businessman, and used the carriage he brought with him from the US to drive around travelers from Jaffa to Jerusalem. He was one of the few that stayed in Jaffa, after most of the colony returned to the US.