Join the Fredericksburg Dance Club at the Turner Hall (Fredericksburg Social Turn Verein), at 103 E. Travis Street, Saturday from 8 pm to Midnight. $10 at the door. Beer & Set-Ups available. Great dance floor and great music!
A Turn Verein (that’s the Texas spelling of Turnverein) was orginally a gymnastic and social club begun in 1811 in Germany by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. Turn Veriens were established all over the country promoting gymnastics and calisthenics, and Turners contributed to the standardization and popularization of bowling nationwide.
Since 1854 there have been twenty-eight turnvereins in twenty-one Texas communities, some with over 600 members. As soon as possible after formation, all acquired halls spacious enough to accommodate gymnastics. Whether simple frame structures or elaborate masonry complexes housing bowling alleys, ballrooms, theatres, and saloons, nineteenth-century Texas Turner halls were often centers of community life. Financing came primarily from dues and rental and sale of property, although tax incentives and rent-free buildings for community service projects were sometimes provided. In 1984 six Texas turnvereins remained active: Boerne, Comfort, Fredericksburg, Houston, La Bahía, and San Antonio. Turners, however, have contributed much more than buildings. Though begun as gymnastic societies, most vereins also had social, intellectual, and benevolent goals. Houston’s Turners cared for the sick and needy, established schools, and provided dramatic and musical entertainment for the public. Turners organized elaborate Fourth of July celebrations for their towns or counties and made turnverein parks, gymnasiums, and bowling alleys available for general use. Most significant, Turners founded several of the first volunteer fire departments and provided fire protection for years. The Houston and Fredericksburg clubs received citations for this work. The 1870s were the heyday of turnvereins in Texas, with fifteen new clubs organized, both by second-generation German Texans and by Turners from other states. –