Glendale school site’s roots trace back to a popular saloon & hotel: Our Neighborhood, The Way it Was

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library Digital Archives

It’s hard for many Glendale residents to imagine, but the site of what is today Redeemer Lutheran School was once one of the neighborhood’s most popular drinking establishments.

Hofmann House Hotel opened in 1902 at the corner of Cooper Avenue and Lafayette Street (present-day 69th Place). It was operated by Sebastian Hofmann and his wife, Lena, who were Brooklyn residents. They purchased the site, which was previously farmland, for the tidy sum of $2,195 and erected the hotel there over the course of a year.

Sebastian Hofmann had a wooden leg, but it did not hamper his ability to run the hotel and saloon. He primarily catered to Long Island farmers bringing their produce to the Wallabout Market in Brooklyn.

The hotel had a large saloon located adjacent to Cooper Avenue. Sebastian Hofmann had placed a large watering trough there for the customers’ horses to get a drink as their owners sought their own refreshment.

Behind the saloon was a large dance hall with a bar in the rear. Behind the building was a small picnic area; hotel rooms were on the upper floor of the building.

In 1902, Hofmann House Hotel had a party line telephone installed, one of the first of its kind in Glendale.

Sebastian and Lena Hofmann had two sons, George and Charles. In later years, George would operate a service station across the street from Hofmann House on the southwest corner of Lafayette Street and Cooper Avenue. Charles, meanwhile, helped his father run the hotel and saloon.

On May 5, 1917, the Home Defense League of the 285th Precinct in Glendale held a ball at the Hofmann House, just a month after the United States entered World War I. The Home Defense League was trained to replace standard police in the event of an emergency.

Hofmann House did well despite the war, but National Prohibition — which took effect in 1919 — hit the business hard.

In 1927, Edward Hofmann was listed as operating the service station. Four years later, George Hofmann, who owned the service station, also operated the local Hudson-Essex car dealership, and had a showroom nearby.

Tragedy, however, struck the Hofmann family on Sept. 8, 1934. Charles Hofmann, his wife, Sara, and their 6-year-old son, Charles J., died on board the luxury liner Morro Castle, which caught fire and burned off the coast of Asbury Park, NJ. The ship had been moving through a storm when the fire broke out; a distress signal went out at 2:50 a.m.

The crew was only able to launch six of the ship’s 12 lifeboats, but of the lifeboats launched, several of them wound up being damaged in the rough surf. Charles, Sara and Charles Hoffman Jr. were among the 248 fatalities; 170 passengers and 149 crew members survived.

Hofmann Hall, meanwhile, continued on and remained a popular spot for functions in Glendale. St. Pancras Church held picnics there and a number of local baseball teams held bunco, card parties and dances at the hall.

Maria Hofmann was listed as the proprietor in 1946. In April of that year, she threw a party for 300 in celebration of her engagement to Charles Stable.

But in 1959, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, whose church is located on Cooper Avenue and 69th Street, bought Hofmann Hall and converted the premises to Redeemer Lutheran School. It originally had five classrooms and a large gymnasium.

Students outside Redeemer Lutheran School in Glendale back in September 2017. (photo via Facebook/Redeemer Lutheran School)
Students outside Redeemer Lutheran School in Glendale back in September 2017. (Photo via Facebook/Redeemer Lutheran School)

Subsequently, in 1970, the church built an addition with four more classrooms as well as offices and auxiliary facilities. Part of the original Hofmann Hall building was renovated for use as a lunchroom, a library and an art room.