Find German restaurants, stores and events in Florida.

Germans in Florida

On April 20, 1885, the small town of Gotha was founded in central Florida by Henry Hempel, a German immigrant and printer. A few years prior, Hempel purchased 1,000 acres of land and decided to form a German community. The community was then subsequently named Gotha after his birthplace in Germany. However, Gotha was not only founded to create a community of inhabitants that were culturally similar, but also ideologically similar. Hempel was a member of the German Freethinkers League and aspired to create a secular community of individuals that valued logic and reason over tradition. While Gotha remained a thriving community for nearly a decade, the Great Freeze of 1894 was disastrous for many residents, whose livelihoods depended on citrus farming. Many residents left the town in search of economic opportunities elsewhere and Gotha subsequently lost the very characteristics upon which it was founded.

While Gotha has very few traces left of German heritage, there are still other opportunities in the state to experience German culture. One opportunity is to get involved with one of the various German clubs in Florida. The German-American Social Club of Cape Coral hosts a Kultur Abend that includes songs, poetry and presentations about various German cities. They also run a Hafenkapelle, which plays traditional German music. However, if you’re interested in not only learning about German culture but also socializing with natives, there are various opportunities in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers region as well. In addition to the German Schlager singer, Heino, reportedly owning a house in the area, there is a growing community of German ex-pats. While Gotha may have been the former hub of German culture in Florida, it appears the Cape Coral-Fort Myers’ region is its future.

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