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Illustrations-Figure 1. Perspective....
Founder of the Rough House, or Institution of Rescue at Horn, near Hamburg.
John Henry Wichern, whose name will ever be associated with one of the most interesting educational and reformatory movements of the age, as founder and superintendent of the Rough House, (Rauhe Haus,) near Hamburg, was born in that city on the 21st of April, 1808.* His father was a notary and sworn translator, and gave his son the advantages of the best education which Hamburg afforded. He attended the Johanneum and the academic gymnasium of his native city, and afterward, till 1830, pursued a course of theological study at Göttingen and Berlin. Soon after passing his examination in theology at Hamburg, he went practically to work, visiting the
poor and the needy in the corners and the streets of the city, and undertaking the direction of a free Sunday school for poor children, in which he soon assembled four or five hundred scholars and about forty volunteer teachers. Wichern declined the propositions made him at this time to enter upon the duties of a clergyman, as his thoughts were already occupied in planning such an institution as he opened near Hamburg, in the Rough House, at Michelmas, 1833.
The Rough House, (Rauhe Haus,) was the name, by which a small property, on a lane leading out of the village of Horn, four miles from Hamburg was known, consisting of small thatched cottage, shadowed by a large chestnut tree, and two or three acres of ground partially cleared up, through which straggled a little brook. In the prosecution of a plan, suggested by his missionary labors among the poor of
a Hamburg, of establishing a House of Rescue for destitute, vagrant, and vicious children, not yet convicted by the courts of crime, Mr. Wichern, aided by a voluntary association of like minded men, and by a small donation of three hundred dollars, took possession of this rough cottage with his mother, and in a few weeks received into his family three boys of the worst description, and adopted them as his children. One by one, he added to their number from the same class until his family circle, with himself and mother, embraced fourteen persons—twelve of them, the least hopeful of the juvenile population of the city. And there under that thatched roof, with that unpromising ground, with the help of his devout mother, with a well spring of Christian charity in the hearts, and words of kindness on the lips of both, Mr. Wichern succeeded in inspiring those children with the attachments of a home-in cultivating filial affections, almost dormant
* We are indebted for the principal facts of this Memoir to the Conversations-Lexicon.
in forming habits of profitable industry, and laying the foundations of a good moral character on which they subsequently built up a useful life. From these small beginnings, without the aid at any time of large governmental grants, and of but one large legacy [of $13,500,] the institution has expanded, until in 1854, the grounds included thirty-two acres, portions of which are tastefully laid out in walks and shrubbery, and all of which are highly cultivated; to the original Rough House have been added fourteen buildings of plain but substantial construction, scattered in a picturesque manner about the grounds, and the principles of Family Organization, Christian Training and Industrial occupation have been preserved and improved, until it has become the working model for a new order of preventive and reformatory agencies in every country of Europe.
Since 1840, as the foundation of asylums for destitute children has followed in Germany, France and England, Dr.* Wichern has aided various enterprises of a similar character. He had already united under the name of the Inner Mission almost all active efforts in Germany for the moral and religious improvement of the destitute and vicious, when chiefly through his instrumentality, the Central Committee for the Inner Mission, was appointed at the first Ecclesiastical Convention, (die Kirchen-Tag,) at Wittenberg, in Sept. 1848. Through this committee of which he was a member, Wichern gained a much wider field for his activity. At the annual meeting of the Kirchen-Tag, and on his travels in every part of Germany he aids by word and deed the establishment of societies and institutions for the promotion of education, and the care of the sick, poor and imprisoned.
Upon his return from a journey to England in 1851, the Prussian government employed him to visit the houses of correction, and prisons of the kingdom, and to attempt their improvement. Prevented by these active duties from literary exertions he has published but little. His work on “ the Inner Mission of the German Evangelical Church” (Hamb. 1849,) presents his principles concerning free christian charity and its relations to the ecclesiastical and social questions of the day. Since 1844 he has published the “ Flying Leaves of the Rough House,” (Fliegende Blätter des Rauhen Hause,) in which are contained a portion of the addresses which he has made at the different ecclesiastical conventions.
The accompanying diagrams, copied from a number of the "Flying Leaves,” exbibit the outward aspects of the Rough House, as they appeared to the Editor of this Journal in 1854,---and the article which follows, will present the principles on which it has been conducted.
* In 1851, he received from the University of Halle, the degree of Doctor of Philology.
Entering the grounds, which are enclosed only by a hedge, at the gate which fronts the chapel, on the right, (1,) is the original Rough House, the cradle of the institution, and just back of it the large chestnut tree, beneath which so many happy reunions have been celebrated. In the Rough House are accommodations for a family of twelve boys, the chief of this family and several of the brothers. There is also an apartment where the new comers are received until they can be distributed into their appropriate groups, and the business office. Passing up the graveled walk, is a side path to the left, which leads to the (2) Book Bindery, (Buch-binderei,) and (3) the Stereotype Foundry, in which some of the inmates are employed under trained workmen. Further to the left (4,) stands the Swiss House, (Schweizer-Haus,) erected in 1834. This is the Porter's Lodge and the Printing Office, with accommodations for a family, of twelve boys, and their chief, and two brothers. Directly beyond the lodge and the bindery is the lake, into which the labor of the boys has expanded the once straggling brook, and on its borders droop the willow and the ash, beneath which (16) stands the Fisherman's Hut, (Ficherhütte,) erected in 1846, for the residence of a group of boys, with two brothers.
On the right and just beyond the Rough House, stands (25,) a new dwelling erected in 1853, for the residence of a family of twelve boys, and a circle of brothers and assistants. The structure is very convenient, and the cost was about $1,500. In the northeast corner of the grounds, (16,) is the Bee Hive, (Bienen korb,) erected in 1841, with accommodations for a group of twelve boys, and a circle of brothers.
Directly in front of the gate by which we entered, and in full sight, is (23, 24,) a group of buildings, in which is the chapel, (Anstaltsküche,) erected in 1835, the school-rooms, the library, the preparatory department for the girls, and (23,) the residence of the director of all this portion of the institution. Here too is the linen room, the store room, and the only kitchen on the premises. Adjoining the church is (22) the dwelling for two families of girls, and to the right (20,) the Wash House, (Wascherei,) and Drying House, (21.)
Passing to the left from the church, and its associated buildings, we pass on the right (18, 17,) the House of Industry, (Arbeithaus,) with workshops for carpentering, shoemaking, slipper manufactoring, tailoring, weaving, &c., with apartments (15,) called the Shepherd's Cot, (Hirtenhütte.) for a family of boys, and a circle of brothers. Beyond and back, screened by the trees, are (14,) the barn and stables; and on the left (13) is the bakery, (12,) and residence of the farmer.
In the northwest corner, fronting on a beautiful lawn, and with a back ground of oaks, (8, 9, 10,) the Institute of the Brothers of the Inner Mission, with chambers, school-rooms and library, for the teachers and brothers, hospital and bathing accommodations for the whole establishment, and the book-store, and counting-room.
Beyond the lawn (6) stands (5) the Mother House, (Mütterhaus,) the private residence of the family of the Superintendent.