Estonian House
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Thomas A. Gray, 1899

The Estonian Educational Society, founded in 1929, is one of the oldest Estonian organizations in the USA. Organized activity of Estonians in New York started at the beginning of last century, when many emigrated to the USA in 1905 following political unrest in Estonia. The building was purchased in 1946. Estonian House has played a particularly important role during the years of Estonian occupation. The influx of Estonian refugees after World War II, starting in 1949, brought many more Estonians into the Society. On Friday nights the House was too small to handle the crowds, and there was always a line outside waiting to get into the restaurant, the bar and the events in its rooms.

The house was originally built for the Civic Club in 1898-1899, having been designed by Brooklyn architect Thomas A. Gray. The Civic Club was founded by the local social reformer F. Norton Goddard (1861-1905) to reduce poverty and fight against gambling in the neighborhood (east of Fourth Avenue, now Park Avenue South, from 23rd to 42nd streets). After Goddard's death in 1905 the club ceased to exist, but the building remained in the Goddard family until 1946,when Frederick Norton's widow sold it for $25,000 to Estonian Educational Society,Inc. The building continues to serve a vital purpose as Estonian House. Moreover, the handsome building adds character and grace to its surroundings and survives as an elegant example of Beaux-Arts Design. The building sits little-changed since 1899.

Saturday Tour Info: Guided tours at 12, 2, and 4pm will focus on the history of Estonians abroad and in New York City, as well as the history of the building.

Image credit: Magnus Heinmets