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by Jessica Waytenick •

Address: 712 W. 2nd Street in Davenport, Iowa
Phone: 563-322-8844
Web Site: www.gahc.org
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm; Sunday 12-4 pm
Admission: $5 adults; $4 seniors; $3 children 5-17 years old
Media Contact: Kelly Lao, 563-322-8844 or kelly.lao@gahc.org
What's New:

  • The German American Heritage Center underwent a $2.5 million renovation that was completed in October 2009 and includes new hours, an interactive permanent exhibit about what it was like for immigrants in the 1800s, and additional special exhibits throughout the year.
  • The fourth floor is now available for facility rental for up to 100 people with audio-visual and sound equipment, and panoramic views of the Mississippi River.

The new permanent exhibit at the German American Heritage Center (GAHC) begins at an era 2,000 years before Germany unified. The exhibit progresses through several interactive and intergenerational experiences from immigrants’ journey by sea, train and foot, to their final destination at GAHC, which was originally a very busy hotel for thousands of immigrants in the 1860s. The second half of the exhibit shows contributions to the region by immigrants, and highlights daily life, from recreation, family life, religion and organizations.

Built around the late 1860s, the GAHC location appears to have had its earliest history in the hostelry enterprise. Around 1872, the 30-room hotel was a popular spot for many immigrants, visitors, and farmers who came to Davenport. Amenities provided were a saloon, store, barbershop, and a billiard and pool hall.

Its German character as a “Gast Haus” lasted well into the early years of the twentieth century. This building is the last remaining immigrant hotel of the 1800s in the region and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Along with the new permanent exhibit, the GAHC also now has two special/traveling exhibit spaces. These spaces will change throughout the year showcasing different exhibits.

The Quad Cities was a gateway to the west for those who settled in Nebraska, Dakotas and Iowa. The former hotel was the perfect location for such a center because it was located on the super highway of its time, the Mississippi River, and it stands in what was once the hub of German life in Davenport.

In the 1980s and after many owners, the building had become run down. In 1995, the GAHCM purchased the building, and much restoration has to be done before it opened to the public in 2000. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The GAHC also has a genealogical research center with preserved documents and artifacts. They also have programs, lectures, concerts, and workshops throughout the year. Each year in November and December, the GAHCM has a Christkindlmarkt with unique items for sale from Germany.

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