The American Consulate in Hamburg was established as one of the first U.S. Consulates on June 17, 1790, with the naming of John Parish, a naturalized Hamburg citizen of Scottish birth, as Vice Consul. In 1793, Parish was promoted to the rank of Consul for another three years; he is the only non-American to have served in this post.
In 1904, Hugh Pitcairn was appointed the first Consul General.
The Consulate was closed from October 3, 1917 until 1922, with the United States’ participation in World War I. On July 8, 1941, all U.S. Consulates in Germany were closed for the duration of the war, and American interests were handled by the Swiss Legation.
The Consulate General reopened on March 1, 1946, and the U.S. Government purchased the present facilities in 1950.
History of the Building
The two houses that make up the “White House on the Alster” are prime examples of 19th century upper class Hanseatic architecture. Both were designed by the prominent architect Martin Haller, the architect of the Hamburg Rathaus.
The larger house was built in 1882 for the merchant G. Michaelsen, who sold it in 1891 to Wilhelm A. Riedemann, a pioneer in the oil-shipping business and one of the founders of the German-American Petroleum Company (later ESSO). The neighboring house was built in 1893 for businessman Julius Ree who sold it soon after its completion to Eduard Sanders, the business partner and son-in-law of Mr. Riedemann.
From 1933 to 1945, the houses served as Nazi Party Headquarters in Hamburg. At the end of the war, the houses were confiscated by the British Occupying Forces. In May of 1950, the two houses were purchased by the U.S. Government from the heirs of the owners. The houses were remodelled and joined by the large front classical portico patterned after that of the White House, and the Consulate officially moved in on August 15, 1951.
The current location is at least the thirtieth location of the American Consulate in Hamburg. Thirty-one Consuls, and twenty-two Consuls General have served in Hamburg since 1790.