What kind of rental packages do you offer, and what does my rental fee get me?
The German Society of Pennsylvania is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In 2005, the Society began renting its space out to help with the general operational costs of an historic building. Our primary mission remains to educate people about the German and German-American contributions to the development of American society. Therefore, we do not offer rental packages like most hotel ballrooms or banquet halls. Instead, you are able to fully customize your special event by using the caterers and vendors you so choose (though we can recommend a few). This is often desirable by those who are on a budget and want to avoid limited selections (or price mark-ups) tied to a specific location, or those who would like to have a more do-it-yourself wedding. Your rental fee gets you the use of the building, parking lot, kitchen, restrooms, elevator (if needed) and the furniture that comes with the space.
You're located in Center City Philadelphia, so where do my guests park?
The Society has a fenced-in parking lot that holds roughly 25-30 cars. Outside of business hours, there is usually plenty of street parking along Spring Garden (barring any other major activities happening in the area at the same time). Some of the street parking has a two hour limit or is metered, and those restrictions are enforced by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. There are also a limited number of parking lots in the neighborhood with weekend hours. Certain parking lots in the area will allow you to reserve spaces ahead of time as well.
How many hours can we rent your rooms? Will you charge us extra if we go over a certain number of hours?
The German Society rents by each room separately and by the day, rather than by the hour. Therefore, it is the same charge whether you rent the room for one hour or twelve. You may drop off items between business hours (9am to 5pm) the last business day before your event and pick up during business hours the first business day after your event. The standard rental goes from 11am to 1am. We ask that the clean-up process being 90 minutes before the end of the rental period.
Where can I check your availability?
We regularly update our Partyspace calendar to show days that we're unavailable and days that we're closed. Please note that we are closed to rentals during the summer months of June, July, and August. Most of our historic building is not air-conditioned and it can get very hot and stuffy during the summer. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Can we bring in our own items and decorate your rooms?
Absolutely. In fact, the way you set up the room gives us ideas for how we can decorate for our own events! As long as none of your decorations damage our space, i.e. no nails, tacks or tape, you can use lights, potted plants, flowers, banners, garland, etc. We permit the use of candles in all spaces except the Library, but ask that these be contained in votives taller than the flame so they are easily extinguishable. Tape of any kind is strictly prohibited.
Can we smoke inside the German Society?
No - we are a smoke-free facility - that includes foyers, doorways and stairways leading into the building. You can smoke outside, but we kindly ask that you dispose of cigarette butts properly (preferably NOT on the steps or ground outside of our building.) The bathrooms and the Terrace are also smoke-free zones. The no-smoking rule includes electronic cigarettes and "vapes."
Can we bring in live music or a DJ?
Certainly. We can even give you suggestions as to where to put your music in order to maximize the acoustics in each of our rooms.
Do you have tables and chairs we can use?
The Society has rectangular folding tables (7ft 1in long, seats 6-8) and accompanying folding chairs that can be put in any arrangement you choose. We also have a limited number of 5ft round tables available for rent at $10/table. If you would like high-top tables or other furniture, you will have to rent those from your caterer or a party supplier. Any items you rent MUST have rubber caps or protective pads on the feet so as not to scratch the floor.
What if we need to rent tables, chairs, etc.?
Any drop-offs must be scheduled between the hours of 9am and 5pm on the last business day before your event. Similarly, pick-up must be scheduled between 9am and 5pm on the first business day after your event. We will be happy to receive your rented items and hand them back over to the rental company again, but we would prefer that someone from your party be present, as you are the one who knows best what you ordered and what you are obligated to return. We need to be informed in advance when your deliveries are scheduled. There is no additional charge for us to receive and return the rented items on your behalf, but we will only accept pre-paid deliveries, and we will not take responsibility for missing items upon delivery or pick-up. We are unable to sign delivery receipts, since we are not familiar with your order or agreement with the party rental provider. We will also refuse any tables, chairs, or other items that do not have protective rubber caps on the feet.
Do you have a bar area?
Both the Ratskeller and Auditorium have bars with refrigeration units. These can be used to serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. We do not have a beer tap or an ice machine. You are welcome to bring a keg, but we ask that you also bring a big plastic tub for it to sit in to protect our floors, and you will need to rent the tap itself.
Are you handicap accessible?
There are five or six steps to get into the building and the restrooms are located in the Ratskeller (basement). We have an elevator, which will allow guests to access all levels of our building, including the Library, Auditorium and balcony, street level, and Ratskeller. Please let us know in advance if you will need to use it.
Do you have outdoor space we can use?
Yes. We have a small fenced-in courtyard on the 7th street side of our building. The Leidy Terrace was completed in spring 2016 and is accessible from street level and Ratskeller level. A piece of the Berlin Wall with original graffiti stands at the northwest corner of the Terrace.
Does the German Society have a list of caterers we are required to use?
While the Society can certainly recommend a few caterers with which we have established relationships or who have successfully done events on our premises before, we do not have a select list of caterers from which you MUST choose. You may bring in any caterer you choose, or you can even cook the food here in our kitchen(s) yourself. If you decide not to use a caterer, we ask that you hire a professional cleaning company to take on cleaning responsibilities.
To what extent do we have to clean up?
At the end of your event, you are required to leave the space the way you found it. It needs to be ready to host another event the following day. We require you to either passing this responsibility on to your catering team or hire a professional cleaning team. If the caterers are taking care of cleaning, it is important to communicate clearly ahead of time that their team will be responsible for a thorough cleaning of all the spaces rented, not just the kitchens. You are not required to take your trash with you. You are welcome to use our dumpsters in the parking lot. We inspect our spaces after each event, and if we need to enlist our janitor for additional cleaning of the space, we will retain your security / cleaning deposit as stated below.
Are there any additional fees I should know about?
Yes, there are two additional fees.
1) We charge a refundable cleaning and security deposit. If the terms of clean-up mentioned above are not adhered to, the Society will take care of the mess, and therefore will keep your deposit to cover the cost of doing so. If the rooms are left in proper condition, we will fully refund your security deposit. The release or retention thereof is solely at the German Society's discretion. Please keep in mind that our contract is with you. If you entrust the caterer to take care of clean-up, and they do not (for whatever reason), we will deduct from your deposit.
2) You will need to provide liability insurance for the party. The majority of caterers will provide this on your behalf, and all of the caterers on our Recommended Caterers List will do so as well. If your caterer does not have, or is unwilling to provide it, you may purchase it yourself through a third-party insurance provider. The fee goes directly to the insurance company.
Do you have room dimensions and floor plans to help me set up my event?
The dimensions can be found on each room's respective webpage. Upon request we can provide floor plans for the various rooms.
If I purchase items for my event that I'm left with once it's over, can I leave them behind as a donation?
Yes. Some parties who have rented our space find that, at the end of their celebration, they're left with extra items they purchased specifically for the event that they don't know what to do with. We will even issue you a receipt for the fair market value of the items to deduct from your taxes.
What is the general neighborhood like around the German Society?
During the day, the area along Spring Garden Street is well-populated and trafficked. At night, we usually recommend people to walk to their cars in pairs or groups just to deter the approach of any unwanted individuals. Also, the nightclubs along Spring Garden Street tend to come alive at midnight and beyond; therefore, we urge you to take that into consideration when planning your event.
What if I want to come and see your space in person?
Please do! We hardly ever rent to parties who haven't visited the space. Call the Society at 215-627-2332 or email email@example.com to set up an appointment.