12 St. Mark’s Place | Block : 463 | Lot #15
Description & Building Alterations
Built in 1888 and designed by architect William C. Frohne, this impressive, landmarked five story building housed the German American Shooting Society until 1904. The Society was one of many organizations set up at the time by European immigrants which catered to clubs based on nationality. This building served as headquarters for the rifle-toting society (this was a social club, not a shooting range) and also housed 24 offices that rented space to mostly German and Slavic businesses.
Following the first wave of German immigrants to settle on the lower East Side in the 1840s, another group of over one million Germans arrived in the 1860s that were fleeing war-torn and remained Europe. Many of them settled on the Lower East Side, creating one of the first predominantly foreign-born neighborhoods in America. For a portion of the 19th century, the East Village hosted the largest population of Germans outside of Europe. This Society was part of a larger collection that was known as “Kleindeutschland,” or Little Germany…
The building itself was the color of old ivory and housed an artistically designed ballroom and saloon on the first floor with swellings on the rest of the floors. It was built of brick with a mansard roof. Only seven years before this building was constructed, there is evidence that architect William Jose was to have built upon this lot in 1881. It is unclear if Jose’s building was demolished or if plans were canceled.
The same year as the tragedy of General Slocum on which members of the most established German families perished, the German American Shooting Society closed its doors. There is no evidence of what the building was used for during the next 15 years, but by 1919 there was a store on the first floor with meeting rooms and offices above. The next record of the building is in 1968, when a new apartment was built on the top floor for a caretaker.
Block : 463 / Lot : 15 / Building Date : 1888 / Original Owner : Deutsch-Amerikanische Schuetzen Gesellschaft / Original Use : Institutional / Original Architect : William C. Frohne