THE HISTORY OF
SEAFARERS INTERNATIONAL HOUSE
Seafarers International House is the Lutheran response to the urgent needs of vulnerable seafarers and sojourners.
Seafarers International House (SIH) was founded in 1873 by the Augustana Lutheran Church, initially as a mission to Swedish seafarers in the Port of New York and shortly thereafter as a mission to both Swedish seafarers and Swedish immigrants. Incidental to the consolidation of various Lutheran judicatories in the United States over the years, Seafarers International House became an affiliated mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1987. It is a tax-exempt, 501 (c) (3) organization, incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation under the laws of New York State.
“Seeing” those who are often invisible since 1873
Parish based immigrant focus including seafarers in partnership with the German Seamen’s Mission
Rented two houses on Moore St.reet with 18 rooms primarily for immigrants
Rented #5 Water Street for the tidal wave of immigrants (40,000 a year)
With America's entry into WW I in 1917 seafarers emerged as primary beneficiaries and after the stock market crash of 1929 service to homeless men increased
Adapting to needs and refocusing mission for over 145 years
Purchased #6 Water Street adding 34 rooms and a cafeteria,for seafarers and homeless men
With Amercia's entry into WW II debarking servicemen became the focus
Responding to emerging needs
Opened the new Guesthouse near Union Square (84 rooms) after a merger with the Lutheran Home for Women providing lodging for seafarers, women in crisis, survivors of violence, displaced people, and immigrants, especially asylum seekers
The German Seamen's Mission in New York, a member of the German Seamen's Mission (Deutsche Seemannsmission e.V.) based in Bremen, Germany, was originally founded in 1907 in Hoboken. After the Hoboken operations closed, the German Seamen’s Mission was housed at SIH in 1983. By 2012 the German Seamen's Mission of New York became officially part of Seafarers International House.
Harbor of Hospitality
Since 2008 visitation to ships and transporting of seafarers has increased with 7 port chaplains in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Southern New England.
Around the same time, we established a visitation program to nearby Detention Centers to encourage asylum seekers and offer them a transitional home once released.
Travelers staying at our Guesthouse help make this mission possible