Eendracht makt Macht! Unity is Strength!
The Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen of Brooklyn un Umgebung was founded in 1883 in Brooklyn and moved to Franklin Square in 1916.In 1883 four Gentlemen born in North Germany made it their calling, to create a second Plattdeutsches Homeland here in the United States (our adoptive home). Messrs. M Renken, Dick von Bargen, John Mesloh and Bernard Mueller set out to create an Umbrella Organization which would hold all North German clubs and their members. As their symbol they selected a Beehive, (representing unity and working together), and as their goal they created a sizable organization, for the good and welfare of the society, especially their German country men, who at the time did not have a safety net when illness struck.
The Beehive and their slogan was – EENDRACHT MAKT MACHT! Or translated into English – UNITY IS STRENGTH! Is still being used today.During the first 50 years, the organization as it was called Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen of Brooklyn un Umgegend, or Brooklyn and Surroundings, grew more than they anticipated and with it, their influence. They were much admired for their social contributions. With the idea of creating and holding a Volksfest every year – or a German/American Festival, which attracted thousands of participants, and with other fund raisings, they were able to open a hospital called the Wyckoff Heights Hospital in Brooklyn. Later on they acquired property in Franklin Square, Long Island to build a Retirement Home for their German countrymen. The idea was first raised in 1910; in 1913 they started planning it and in 1914 they created a corporation. It was named the Plattduetsche Altenheim, and later renamed Plattdeutsche Heim. There are pictures of it in this album. In 1916 they purchased 10 acres or 48400 square yards in Franklin Square for the purpose of building an Altenheim on the grounds. It was an old farm with an old building on it. On April 3rd 1923 the new buildingwas completed, containing 50 rooms for the first residents to move in.
At the same time it was decided by the PVV to move their Volksfest from Brooklyn to Franklin Square and in 1916 they bought 4 acres or 19360 square yards right next door to the Altenheim. The 1st festival was held in 1920 on their new grounds. At that time there was not a bush or tree in sight; only an old farmhouse and stable. Under the leadership of Honorary President R. Schuhmacher a dance hall was built; and now they had one hall for eating and one for merriment. They planted shrubs and trees to create shade for their Biergarten.Many dances and festivities followed. Practically every weekend one club or another had a dance, picnic or Schützenfest in Franklin Square. It was not only for the North Germans, but also for clubs from Swabia and other German organizations, who loved to come to this area for their festivities. What began small kept growing and growing; to accommodate all the people new buildings were added. The Brooklyn Schuetzen Club joined in 1921 and with them the PVV added a shooting range.
With the new wave of German immigration after the 2nd World War, the Plattduetsche Park was restored to its former glory with many dances and activities. Many young Germans came here to dance, to meet friends, to make new ones, and many found their future partners here. The PVV as an organization also grew and prospered.Unfortunately the old dance hall became the victim of a fire; it burned to the ground and was replaced with the new Jaegerhalle in 1957. The new hall was many things during its lifetime. It started out as bowling alley, later became a dance hall and ended up as a facility for singing, dancing and holding Christmas Fairs. It also included a big bar where many pints of beer were consumed. In the ’80 the Brooklyn Schuetzen upgraded their facilities and in the late ‘90’s a Schuetzenstube for gathering and entertaining guests was added, with a corner for a “Stammtisch”. Many Schuetzen Koenige (Kings) were crowned here and many wooden birds were shot off.
Building Our Future Through the Traditions of Our Past.
During the ’90’s as the Plattduetsche Restaurant and its facilities fell into disrepair, 3 ladies of the Brooklyn Schuetzen Damen, Ann Harmeling, Ann Preussner and Ella Ney decided to do something about it. They started cleaning up each room. Out of those modest beginnings the Beautification Committee came into being and together with many people from other clubs raised enough money holding Flea markets and Christmas Fairs to restore the glory of the Plattduetsche Restaurant and banquet halls. It became a great place to have a party or wedding. During the summer months, besides the festivals, Friday evening became popular as the Biergarten night. However the success of the Biergarten depended on the weather and events were only held during the summer months. When it rained the music was moved into the old Jaegerhalle, which had no air-conditioning and substandard facilities.
So in 2011, our young manager of the Plattduetsche Restaurant, Matthew Buck, decided to ask for a new building, a structure, bigger and better replacing the old worn out Jaegerhalle. The replacement would stand proudly in the middle of the newly revamped Biergarten and attract many new and old customers. It would become the center of the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen and its Park. It will be a fine German restaurant with good food and good beer. This time the roles were reversed. This time the Plattdeutsche Altenheim granted a loan of $2 million dollars to tear down the old Jaegerhalle and replace it with this new structure, yet to be named. The actual start of the building was in 2013 and completed in 2013.