In March 1871, the Association of the Evangelical Lutheran Church for Works of Mercy was chartered to operate the Martin Luther Orphan's Home. Its members were the German Lutheran parishes of Boston.
The idea for an orphan's home did not originate from pastoral leadership but rather from a Roxbury parishioner named Gottlieb Burkhardt.
Gottlieb Burkhardt was a German immigrant who made a vow, upon reaching America, that if he became wealthy, he would distribute "God's" wealth to the poor.
When his Roxbury brewery started making money he began to help his neighbors and fellow parishioners.
Gottlieb called on Rev. William Passavant of Pittsburgh to help him organize an orphanage in Boston. On Nov. 10, 1870 Passavant and the Boston pastors met to survey several sites of land and form an association.
Brook Farm, once the site of a famous utopian transcendentalist community, was soon chosen as the optimum site and Gottlieb bought the land with a partial mortgage.
After time was allowed for "God to show that His will lay behind the institution," the Home was dedicated on October 3, 1872. The mission of the home was to raise orphans and half-orphans in a Lutheran home where they would learn the "true Word of God" and be confirmed in the Lutheran Church.
Source: Simmons University
In 1873, 150 years ago, according to Gottlieb Burkhardt's wishes, Gethsemane Cemetery was created.
Now known as The Gardens at Gethsemane, we have continued to honor Gottlieb Burkhardt's wishes and Philosophy.