U.S. Army Chapel
With the emergence of the residential development on Huettenweg and the growth of the American military community, a need for spiritual guidance also arose. A number of facilities for daily living had already been built in and around the residential developments, which were further expanded over the years. The numerous shopping opportunities and leisure offerings represented a central focal point for Americans living in Berlin – a Little America. The new church, which was consecrated in 1957, served an area reaching far beyond Dahlem.
The US Army Chapel was conceived as an ecumenical place of worship for the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish communities. Andrews Barracks already had a church at its disposal starting in 1951. It provided room for around 440 believers from all faiths. The new structure on Huettenweg contained a total of fifteen rooms. The nave offered around 350 seats, and the balcony provided an additional eighty. A Fellowship Room accommodated 130 persons, while the Blessed Sacrament Chapel provided space for an additional forty.
Based on the American model, the free-standing church is situated on a grassy and wooded landscape. This open structure without any property markings represented the Americans’ post-war philosophy of freedom. A curved drive leads to the church entrance, thus allowing high-ranking military officials to drive straight to the door. It also permitted wedding couples to arrive at the church American-style.
The church was designed by Carl Mertz, the government building director for Berlin’s Bauamt Süd building authority. This project, like all other construction projects by the US occupation forces, was carried out together with the US Engineer Division. Today, the church is in the possession of the municipal district.
The church with its attached parish hall consists of three offset components of different heights and it has virtually no right angles. The bell tower is thirty-five meters high. As was typical for the 1950s, the reinforced concrete framing the structure dominates the blend of materials used in the building. On the interior, this permits the nave to stand without visible supports. Due to the church’s use by a variety of religious faiths, separate sanctuaries surround the altar.
The church on Huettenweg still represents a house of tolerance. It is currently used by three different Christian communities and also serves Berlin’s Jewish community as a synagogue. Despite its largely English-speaking services, the worshippers have not been purely American for a long time.
The Thomas A. Roberts School (TAR) opened in 1953 with 110 students. Over the years, the building was expanded several times. For example, the side wing fronting Huettenweg was constructed in 1957/58. At this time, the school provided space for 250 students; in the 1960/61 school year, a total of 850 students attended classes. The design for the building complex came from Arnold Blauvelt, who was also responsible for the Outpost Theater building.
Standing on the street and looking into the left of the two entrances, we can still discover the former school motto painted on a red, white, and blue background on one of the inner courtyard walls: Togetherness, Achievement, Responsibility – or TAR for short, which is taken from the initials of the school’s namesake. Today, the Quentin Blake School and the Biesalski School share the building’s rooms.
Directions 2 > 3
From the church, follow Huettenweg – flanked by the former TAR School on the left and Cole Sports Center on the right – towards Clayallee. Diagonally opposite the intersection, fences, cameras, and vehicle barriers will appear, reflecting the high security requirements for the consular division of the US Embassy. 200 meters down Clayallee, the entrance to the former main building of US Headquarters appears on the left.