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History of the GACC

During the decade following World War I, the leadership of numerous German Societies existing in the Detroit area recognized the need to preserve the culture and traditions of their homeland. Groups such as German American Press Club, United Singers of Detroit and the Arbeiter Verein built the first Deutsches Haus in 1928, located on the corner of Mack and Maxwell. During the prohibition era, newspaper stories of the time guessed that it may have operated as a blind pig; during one state police raid, Detroit Mayor John Smith, Congressman Robert Clancy and Sheriff Edward Stein were some of those arrested. The building was lost during the Depression years, and as World War II started, active German groups became almost nonexistent.

In 1946, under the sponsorship of the Detroiter Abendpost, the Michigan Relief for Germans in Europe was formed, becoming affiliated with the American Friends Service Committee, the official organization designated by the United States Government to channel food, clothing and financial relief to the devastated German areas in Europe. One quarter of a million dollars, food and clothing was sent to the war-ravished country to alleviate the suffering of needy and homeless people. The Michigan Relief for Germans in Europe was formally dissolved in 1950.One of the profound and lasting benefits of that great war-relief effort was the impetus on the part of the leaders of the German Societies in Detroit to promote and continue their culture and traditions. In 1950, a small group organized the German American Club, the actual forerunner of our German American Cultural Center. The first organizational meeting of the German American Club was May 15, 1950. Fourteen representatives from the German Societies were present. An appeal was made through radio and Detroiter Abendpost for all Germans to join. By June 19, 1950 a total of 83 members were present. By September the organization grew to 253 members.

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Bau Steine were sold to gather funds for a new Deutsche Haus. The Bau Steine were certificates equal to any stock certificate being issued today. The newly formed organization was registered in Lansing as a non-profit organization. In 1954 the name of German American Cultural Center (GACC) was adopted. The first banquet of the German American Cultural Center was held at the Detroit Yacht Club in 1958 with a total of 352 in attendance. Soon after, the first property purchased by the GACC was a parcel of land on 8 Mile Road and Brock consisting of 160 by 200. In 1959 an offer was received from the Sun Oil Company to exchange the 8 Mile Road property for a parcel in the near vicinity. Less than a year later in August of 1959 a bid was received from the Taubman Company to purchase the exchanged piece of property. It was sold to the Taubman Company.

The second parcel of land was purchased in 1960 from the City of Detroit. It was located on Harper and Conner Avenue and consisted of 1 ½- 2 acres of land. The third location of 6.3 acres was purchased from the Bell Lumber Company on Outer Drive and Lappin. Ground breaking took place on May 19, 1968 for the Deutsche Haus. A dedication ceremony for the new Deutsche Haus was held on July 12, 1969.

Many cultural events and festive occasions were celebrated inside the halls of the Deutsche Haus, including holiday celebrations, plays, card parties, Oktoberfests, and choral and other musical presentations. The Deutsche Haus was a stop for many German folksingers on tour in America, including Heino. After a quarter century of fond memories, the Deutsche Haus on Outer Drive was sold in 1994.

The new home of the GACC is located in the Carpathia Hall.

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