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150 YEAR HISTORY OF
SEAFARERS INTERNATIONAL HOUSE

MISSION STATEMENT

Seafarers International House (SIH) is the Lutheran response to the urgent needs of vulnerable seafarers and immigrants.

This is the year of SIH's 150th anniversary, celebrating fifteen decades of uninterrupted services to over 2 million seafarers and immigrants in New York City and beyond!  SIH is not a place, but rather a service to people on the way. 
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. 

For a quick overview of the past 150 years of uninterrupted service, please scroll down.

A complete history in the form of a 30-page 150th Commemoration PDF can be downloaded gratis by clicking the image to the right or this LINK.

 

A printed copy will be mailed to anyone within the US who makes a one-time contribution of at least $150.  Click the "Donate" button on this page or this DONATION LINK.

Immigrants on steamer passing Liberty Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, July 2, 1887 -
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Lighting the way for both seafarers and immigrants since 1873

1873-1895

Ministry to Swedish seafarers and immigrants at German Lutheran Immigrants House, 26 State Street; ship visits in port

1895-1898

Rented two houses on Moore St.reet with 18 rooms primarily for immigrants, while visiting seafarers on their sail boats

1898-1927

Rented #5 Water Street for the tidal wave of immigrants (40,000 a year)

1907

German Seamen’s Mission in the Port of New York founded and operated in Hoboken, NJ. After years of collaboration it merged into SIH in 2018 with a German speaking port chaplain still assisting mariners today

1917

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 150 years

1927

Purchased  #6 Water Street adding 34 rooms and a cafeteria,for seafarers and homeless men

1941

With Amercia's entry into WW II debarking servicemen became the focus

Responding to emerging needs

1964

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   

1983

The German Seamen's Mission in New York, a member of the German Seamen's Mission (Deutsche Seemannsmission e. V.) based in Bremen, Germany, closed its Hoboken operations and was housed at SIH in 1983. By 2012 the German Seamen's Mission of New York became officially part of Seafarers International House.

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A Harbor of Hospitality where it is needed

2008-2019 

Established a visitation program to nearby Detention Centers to encourage asylum seekers and offer them a transitional home once released.

In 2019, SIH served almost 40,000 seafarers and immigrants not counting paying guests who through room fees contributed to the mission 

2020-2023 and beyond 

With the COVID-19 pandemic new income was derived from the lease of the guesthouse to social service organizations that share the mission of caring for people with temporary housing needs.

Alternate lodging for asylum seekers and mariners was found in 2021 with “overflow” provided in mid-town hotels and at the Salvation Army. 

As of 2023, Seafarers International House continues to look for a suitable permanent home in New York City with mission-based guestrooms and administrative offices.

 

SIH continues to serve seafarers in the ports of Albany, Baltimore, New Haven, and New York & New Jersey.  

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