Place’s story

1887-1950 Establishment

The Hansen House story began even before the first stone was laid in its foundation. This story begins with a visit from Germany, of the Baron and Baroness von Keffenbrinck Ascheraden, at the old city of Jerusalem in 1865. In their visit, they encountered lepers begging near the poor huts at the Zion Gate, an encounter that brought them to decide to promote the establishment of a proper asylum for people with leprosy. In cooperation with a committee of the Joint Anglican-German Protestant Community in Jerusalem, the first leper asylum was established in 1867 next to the old Mamilla Pool. When this initial structure could no longer fit all people with leprosy seeking shelter, it was decided in 1882 that a larger home be built

1885 Setting a Cornerstone

On Saturday, May 9 1885, in a festive ceremony, the cornerstone of the new leper asylum was set in a plot that had been purchased in 1873, where a vineyard was planted. All respected members of the Protestant community in Jerusalem were invited to the ceremony

1887 House Warming

The impressive building was designed and built by German architect Conrad Schick, who was one of the prominent constructors of Jerusalem in the 19th century. By the spring of 1887, the construction was completed. A convoy of patients walked from the first leper asylum in Mamilla neighborhood to the spacious asylum that was named Jesus Hilfe (Jesus Helps), but in practice called the Leper Home. “What a strange procession! Doubly strange for the neighborhood of an Oriental city! In the East the watchword is, “Love your countrymen, but have everyone who belongs to another nation or religion”. But here, on the hillside to the west of Jerusalem, representatives of different creeds and nationalities file past us in one common fellowship of suffering. These twenty men and women are all lepers in different stages of the terrible disease.  The halt, the maimed, and the blind are there. Those totally crippled ride on asses, for no other means of conveyance is available. Those yet able to walk prefer to do so, the stronger assisting the weaker. It is a melancholy train, in front those who can still see, and the blind bringing up the rear. Yet they are all contented, nay, even cheerful and happy, for they are going to their new home”. (From the Annual Report of the Leper Home at Jerusalem for 1887, the Moravian church archives, London)

1899 The Story of the Cisterns

The Home has two large cisterns, which retain he water from its roofs and from the slope immediately above it on the hill side. These store about 240 cubic meters of water, and consequently hold about one cubic meter for each day of the yeae during which no replenishment of the supply can be expected. Mr. Schubert, the Superintendent, tells us , that a cubic meter of water means about sixty “eimers” or bucketsful. There being, with the patients and the staff, more than sixty persons in the house, that means a .bucketful per day for each individual

Think of the demands for an ample supply of water in such an establishment in a hot country like Palestine. Drinking , washing, bathing, house-cleaning,- and a house like ours must be, and is, kept scrupulously clean;- all theses must be provided, to say nothing of the garden and such animals as are indispensable for the uses of the Home. Mr. Schubert, assisted by the stronger lepers, has enlarged a considerable excavation by blasting the rocks and carrying away the rubbish.    This space has been vaulted over and walled up with cement, so as to form a cistern capable of holding eight hundred cubic meters of water. (An Appeal for a new Cistern at the Home,  Moravian Church Archives London). On Christmas Evening 1900, the Moravian church and its friends were called to help cover the expenses of the new cistern that was named after Bishop La Trobe; the inscription is positioned on the cistern to this day. In 1902, as a result of rains of blessing, the cistern overflowed

1900 The Isolating House

“During a visit of the German emperor Whilhelm II and his wife Augusta in Jerusalem in 1898, the caretaker Mr. Schubert and Sister Elizabeth were invited to a reception , and some of the emperor’s entourage even visited the Leper Home. After this visit, a donation was given, with which an isolating house was built. “on the ground floor are two rooms,for the room for  the dying and disinfecting room. Above these on thew first story are a drying attic, for use in the rainy season of the year, when no washing can be dried out of doors,, and a storing attic, in which articles belonging to the  lepers are kept-skins, bed- covering, and change of garments for winter wear. in all these respects the isolating home has proved a great boon. The bandaging room is set next to the disinfecting room.here the medicines and instruments are now kept, and the daily dressing and binding of the wounds is done. (from the 29th  Annual Report o the Leper Home in Jerusalem for 1900, the Moravian Church Archives, London)

1910 Milk Farm and Land Purchasing

A fourth advantage the Home possesses is an abundance of fresh milk. Brother Bayer has very much improved the dairy-farm,, but has proved to the committee that agriculture does not pay when lsand  has to be rented, especially at such distance as the Colony of Wilhelma, near Jaffa. So farming is now restricted to raising fodder on our own land for our herd of cattle. Fresh milk is a necessity for the House, and everything we have left is easily sold in town for profitable prices. The cow-shed has room for 50 cows, but we only have 23 cows now and few calves at present.

Till lately our property was bounded to the south by the road that leads from the station to the city. We have had to buy the land on the other side of the road, which was once a vineyard but will be turned into fields for the benefit of our cattle, and so of our Home..

But why buy more land? Because “Jesus’  Help” occupies one of the best sites in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. It is said that a town parkis to be laid out near by. A Greek hospital is being built. A site has been bought for the French Consulate.it is rumoured that a town hall is to be erected.

The more Europeans settle in our neighbourhood,  the greater is the danger that the Leper Home may be closed by the Government to remove such unwelcome neighbours. It is hoped the purchase of the new land will prevent this. In any case,whether  we are compelled  to sell – a very remote possibility now- or whether we are able to carry out the plan of continuing to improve the dairy farm, this seemed the best possible investment for a part of our capital” (from the 39th Annual Report for the Leper Home in Jerusalem for 1910, the Moravian church archives, London)

1912 Planting Fir Trees

Sisters Bertha and Juma have planted a lot of young fir trees, which Juma raised from seed, and in imagination they already “Paradise”, larger and shadier than that which forms the chief charm of the grounds. Every  patient who cares to have it has received  received a piece of ground, and there they sow what they like – chiefly onions, it seems. (from the 41st Annual Report o the Leper Home in Jerusalem for 1912, the Moravian Church Archives, London)

1912 Water Supply

An attempt is being made to provide the farm with water enough to make it, independentl of the cisterns that supply the Home. If this can be done, the nurses will be able to have a bath-room, a luxury that has hitherto been regarded as out of reach. The water supply at times caused anxiety, but at last a good rainfall came, though not enough to fill  the big cistern, in January” (from the 41st Annual Report of the Leper Home in Jerusalem for 1912, the Moravian Church Archives, London)

1913 Paradise

The patients made good use of the beautiful spring weather, to plant their allotments. Almost everyone has plot of ground now. Most of the ground was ploughed for them, after they had cleared away the big stones from it, and they raked it, and planted it with onions, beans, tomatoes and other vegetables. Some even grew a little wheat. Out of the produce they made  themselves all sorts of savoury messes “ (from the 42nd  Annual Report of the Leper Home in Jerusalem for 1913, the Moravian Church Archives, London)

1913 Airplane in the Skies of Jerusalem

A great event happend on New Year’s Eve.The nurses were working in the linen-room, when they heard a whirring noise they could not understand. They looked out of the window and saw the lepers gazing up at the sky in great excitement, and at the same moment one of the lepers burst into the room crying: come and look!

They ran out and saw high up in the air something which looked like a big raven,, and they guessed that it must be an aeroplane.

When it came nearer, it flew twice round the Home and elighted on the other side of the road; this first that has ever visited the City of David.

Everybody who had legs to run with ran to see it,, and in a few minutes a crowd came streaming to the spot, on foot, on bicycles, on horseback, on donkeys, and in conveyances of all kinds. In the universal excitement not even the police tried to prevent the lepers from mingling with the crowd, to see this new wonder.

The next morning early the people flocked together again to see it start, and from the balcony the nurses and patients watched it fly over the Mar Elias towards Bethlehem, on its way to Egypt. For days, the lepers talked unwearied of the marvel they had see on those two days” (from the 42nd Annual Report o the Leper Home in Jerusalem for 1913, the Moravian Church Archives, London)

1941 Discovering the Medicine

During the 19th century attempts were made to treat patients with plants made products (such as Gorjun oil) but success was limited. In 1941 the first antibiotic medicine, Sulpha drug, was prescribed to the patients, which significantly improved their condition. Since then, studies have been made, and different types of antibiotics were used, but to this day, Sulpha is one of the most effective medicines prescribed to people with Hansen’s disease.

1950 The Hansen House is sold to the Jewish National Fund

With the division of Jerusalem, after the War of Independence and the establishment of the state of Israel, the Leper Home remained in the Jewish part of the city. Some of the staff and patients chose to leave the Home, and after debates, the Moravian church decided to sell its property. In August 29 1950, a selling contract was signed with the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael), and the Leper Home was transferred to the management of the Ministry of Health of the State of Israel. It was renamed the Hansen Government Hospital, and operated through to 2000

2000: The Hansen Government Hospital Closing

As Hansen’s disease treatment progressed, new patients were being treated at the day clinic, while most of them were released to their own homes. In 2000, when a decision to close the historical house was made, the only four patients who were left for social reasons were transitioned to nursing homes in Jerusalem. Between 2000 and 2009, the  national Hansen Disease Center  day clinic continued to operate on the premises , treating Hansen disease patients. As of 2004, the department of infant mental health of the Ministry of Health started operation on the premises. At the same time, the house was gradually opened to the public, with cultural and artistic activities. It was a place where artists created their art, and photography classes were held, as well as exhibitions and shows

Garden Activities

In 2003, a group of volunteers, in cooperation with The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and with the help of donations, commenced the Hansen House garden renovation project. Terraces were repaired, the old cistern was put to use again for irrigation purposes, trees were signposted, and a pool and a bird hide for birdwatching were built. Today the Hansen garden is used by the public, offering community involvement projects and studies for high school students and field trips for local and foreign youth. The garden also houses horticultural therapy treatments, and serves as a rehabilitation nursery

2009

Resolving to Hand over the Hansen House to the Municipality of Jerusalem City

 

In the spring of 2009, the historical exhibition “Behind the Wall – The Story of the Leper Home in Jerusalem” debuted. Following this event, Jerusalem city’s mayor requested the Hansen compound for the purpose of establishing a new culture center. On the occasion of Jerusalem Day, the Israeli government decided to hand over the Hansen House to the municipality of Jerusalem city to establish a culture and public activity center. Accordingly, the legal owner of the premises, the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) approved the handing over of the premises to the municipality, and a decision was made to establish a design, media and technology center

2011-2013

In 2011, the Jerusalem Development Authority commenced the Hansen House renovation and preservation project. After careful thought about the house’s new function, and considering a concept of publically open house and surrounding garden, it was decided to convert the house into a design, media and technology cultural center, where research & development and public activities could take place. The conversion was headed by the Jerusalem Development Authority, Ran Wolf Urban Planning and Project Management, in cooperation with preservation architect Nahum Meltzer. Renovation and preservation works included minimal interference in the spectacular Hansen structure. Most of the work involved modern infrastructure construction that would serve the new cultural center, as well as reconstruction of the historical garden and trees

2014

Once that the Hansen House was opened to the public, its new tenants moved in: The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design’s graduate programs, Mamuta group for contemporary art, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, digital fabrication, sound and animation laboratories, the historical exhibition, other changing exhibitions, film screenings and many more events

2011-2013: Re-opening of Hansen House as a center for design, media and technology

In 2011, the Jerusalem Development Authority commenced the Hansen House renovation and preservation project. After careful thought about the house’s new function, and considering a concept of publically open house and surrounding garden, it was decided to convert the house into a design, media and technology cultural center, where research & development and public activities could take place. The conversion was headed by the Jerusalem Development Authority, Ran Wolf Urban Planning and Project Management, in cooperation with preservation architect Nahum Meltzer. Renovation and preservation works included minimal interference in the spectacular Hansen structure. Most of the work involved modern infrastructure construction that would serve the new cultural center, as well as reconstruction of the historical garden and trees

2014

Once that the Hansen House was opened to the public, its new tenants moved in: The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design’s graduate programs, Mamuta group for contemporary art, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, digital fabrication, sound and animation laboratories, the historical exhibition, other changing exhibitions, film screenings and many more events