Our Humble Beginnings
Plattduetsche Park traces its origins back to 1883 when Plattduetsche Vereen of Brooklyn, a society of immigrants from the flatlands of northern Germany (which is the meaning of Plattduetsche), was created. It formed out of the need for welfare and support of local community members, as well as for the promotion of German culture and tradition. If you were injured, sick or couldn’t work, they would feed and take care of your family. As a part of the society, you would receive a daily stipend in case of hardship.
The Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen of Brooklyn was also a place for early immigrants from northern Germany to gather, talk and preserve the heritage and traditions from older generations. Their motto was “Eendracht makt Macht,” or “In Unity is Strength.” Their symbol is the beehive because, although individual bees are small, together they can accomplish amazing things.
The Creation of the German Hospital Corporation
To finance the organization, the group held yearly beer festivals at various restaurants, halls and beer gardens with raffles and shooting contests. They eventually raised enough money to finance the purchase of enough land to build a hospital.
The German Hospital Corporation was spun off independently once it was built. In fact, it still stands today as Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. At the time, members of the society could receive free health care at the clinic, as well as any necessary hospitalization or surgery at no cost.
The Big Move
In the Early 1900s, a real estate boom in Brooklyn wiped out many of the restaurants that had large beer gardens and outdoor areas. This made it difficult for the organization to hold yearly fundraising festivals, so members of Plattduetsche began to look eastward for property. Eventually, a German farmer in Franklin Square sold them his land in 1901.
The property was divided into two parcels. One was designated an “old folks’ home.” Still one of the finest senior living centers on Long Island, the Plattduetsche Home and Enhanced Living Apartments are operated independently by the Plattduetsche Home Society.
The other parcel became the new meeting hall and beer garden for the society. The cornerstone of Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen’s (PVV) main building, the third building on the property, was laid in 1939, and local residents have been able to enjoy authentic German specialties here ever since.
Today, the PVV still exists and holds yearly fundraising festivals, just like it did in the late 1800s. Each summer begins with the Gottscheer Festival and LI Bavarian Heritage Festival in June, continues with Volksfest in mid-July and culminates with Ompahfest, which is always the day after the Steuben Parade in NYC.
Over the last 40 to 50 years, the society has become much more of a German-American club. Membership has expanded to include groups from other areas of Germany, including Bavaria and the Frisian Islands. These organizations are primarily comprised of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants who wish to connect with and maintain their German heritage.
Plattduetsche also has its own amateur brass band (Foehrer Musik Freunde), shooting club, soccer team, singing society and dancing groups. We invite you to come and experience for yourself the center of German-American culture on Long Island!