Germania Maennerchor, a singing club dedicated to German heritage, was established in 1900 and relocated in 1910 to its current location on Fulton Avenue when the bought an old mansion just north of town. The new clubhouse was completed and dedicated 100 years ago, so it’s your duty as a history enthusiast to attend Volksfest this weekend and drink some beer.
The growing Germania organization boomed to over 400 members necessitating a larger clubhouse, so once the mortgage on the old Lahr residence was paid off, plans were drawn by famed local architect Frank J. Schlotter during the summer of 1913. Members enjoyed using the back of the property for entertaining (come this weekend and you can see why for yourself), so it was desired to build in front of the old home. A two-story structure of pressed dark red brick with Kentucky limestome for trim was designed that fronted Fulton Avenue where the road narrows. On the first floor was a reception room, billiards room, check room, ladies’ parlor and a probe zimmer (German for “tasting room”). The upper floor had an open design and had a large hall with a stage at the northern end. The hall, which hosted several performances, boasted a rigging loft and equipment as nice as any theater and also had dressing rooms. The design also had a driveway where the street entrance is now that allowed members to get back to the old house. The stage above served as a porte cochere or a covering for those dropping off members at the club’s side entrance.
Ground was broken early September 1913 and the cornerstone was laid October 19th. A time capsule was placed inside the cornerstone, and members of other societes as well as any Germans were invited to a public ceremony of song. The building ran a cost of $18,000 and was dedicated over a three day period May 27-29, 1914. Crowds had to be turned away for some of the festivities, which included Mayor Benjamin Bosse speaking.
A significant remodel occurred in 1939 at which time the murals were painted. The first floor was altered and the entrance was moved to where the driveway stood. (It was originally under the third bank of windows, below the “ERC” in Maennerchor).
In 1947, the old home was torn down and a new boiler house was built in the rear. Later, a 2nd story was added above the boiler room including a kitchen.
Volksfest, which has been an annual tradition since it began in 1934 (save a few years after World War II), runs this weekend. See their Facebook page for more information