In 1886, Franz Lorenz, one of the German Templers who settled in Jaffa, purchased a plot near Neve Tzedek, where he built a residence and coffee house known as Café Lorenz. The house also served as a cultural center for the Templers and the residents of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, as S.Y. Agnon colorfully described in his book Only Yesterday.
In 1909 and 1910, Hebrew theater enthusiasts staged the first Hebrew theater performances at Café Lorenz for Jaffa and Tel Aviv residents.
During most of the British Mandate period, from 1920 to 1948, Café Lorenz hosted many private and public events, including weddings, holiday parties, and commercial and social conferences.
In 1948, at the end of the War of Independence, the compound was renovated for the Israel Defense Forces and adapted for use as a guest house, restaurant, and event hall for soldiers under the direction of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers.
In 1965, the soldier’s guest house was closed and the compound remained abandoned until 2012, when the historic building was restored and preserved by the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, which established a center for contemporary Jewish culture and art there.