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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Maine in Tel Aviv - The American Colony

You have probably heard about the famous American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem but did you know that there is also an American Colony in Jaffa established in 1866 by a group of Christians from Maine, USA?

Thirty-five families set sail on the Nellie Chapin but were unprepared for the hardships that lay ahead. They erected their wooden houses from prefabricated pieces, which they had brought with them. However, diseases, the climate, the insecure and arbitrary treatment by the Ottoman authorities, made many colonists wish to return home.


In front of the Maine Friendship House with Jean Homes
George J. Adams, leader of the American Colony made his purpose clear. "We are going [to Jaffa] to become practical benefactors of the land and people, to take the lead in developing its great resources.” “We have no purpose to interfere with their religion.” Their purpose was not to missionize but instead to assist the Jewish people.
By 1870 the houses were sold to the German Templers who established other settlements in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Galilee.
Very little remains of the wooden homes built by the first American settlers who embarked on their arduous journey over 150 years ago from the shores of Maine to the port of Jaffa. However, due to the determination of one couple, it is possible to visit one of the original homes which has been lovingly restored by Jean and Reed Holmes - the Maine Friendship House
The museum houses artifacts about the original settlers including documents and clothing. Make sure you watch the short movie which is screened in the basement of the house.
The house on Auerbach Street can be visited Friday 12:00 - 15:00, Saturday 14:00 - 16:00.
Visits can be arranged at other times by calling: 03-6819225.


  1. One of the few Americans from that community to remain in the country was Mr. Rolla Floyd (1832-1911). Among other things (including helping found a Masonic lodge here), Floyd made quite a name for himself as a tour-guide! He lived mostly in Jaffa, but forged ties with the later "American Colony" in Jerusalem. He is buried in the "American Cemetery" in Jerusalem's German Colony neighborhood. See here:

    TOM POWERS / Bethlehem

    1. Thank you for that interesting addition!