The Bethesda Mission was founded in 1899 by local members of the Lutheran Church of America. Their purpose was to provide a steadying religious influence for young people. In 1905, they built the building at 22 Woodhull Street, Brooklyn. It had room for over 500, and provided lodging for homeless and needy Norwegian sailors and others. The Mission also helped the sailors in Orkenen Sur, a shantytown of largely underemployed Norwegian sailors situated in Red Hook in the 1920s.