Many thanks to Pete Pierce for submission of this article.
An interesting local event next week will be the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the laying of the corner stone of Turn hall. The observance will be under the auspices of the Syracuse Turn Verein, and will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be a great event, and all arrangements are completed. A very interesting programme has been arranged. One of the interesting features will be a summer night’s festival. Exhibitions in turning will be given by the members of the verein, including the girl’s [sic] class. On Wednesday night the Syracuse Liederkranz, who carried away the honors at the New York saengerfest this week, will sing their prize song. On Tuesday evening the Turners will give their gymnastic exercises as they are to give them at the Dolgeville Turn Bezirk on July 25-28. On Wednesday, the Fourth, the hall and garden will be open to visitors from 2 p. m. until midnight. It is expected that addresses will be made by William Schmidt, who delivered the address at the laying of the corner stone a quarter of a century ago, and others. The committee on arrangements consists of August Ralle, George Bausch, Frank Traugott, A. V. Altmann, Heiko von Lengen and H. F. Dierkier.
The committee on decoration have been at work for a week past preparing the hall and the garden for the anniversary occasion and they will finish their labors to-day. The hall proper will be decorated with flags, bunting and festoons of flowers; the stage will be a bank of palms and towering plants; the park will be lighted by night with several thousand gaily colored lamps, strung between the trees. Flowering shrubs and evergreens have been placed all about the park and booths, where the ladies of the association will dispense lemonade and ice cream, have been erected.
The stage in the park has been extended for the use of the Turners in the exhibitions that occur throughout the fest, and every arrangement for the comfort and pleasure of those who attend is afforded.
The Turn Verein was organized in this city on May 15, 1854. In 1848, when the masses arose against the spirit of absolutism and the thrones of Europe were trembling, there were sons of the Fatherland here who had been compelled to leave their native land as a result of their love of liberty and their hatred of the tyrannical laws of their government. There were less than twenty of these men in this city, and they were the founders of the Turn Verein. They had been disciples of Jahn, the founder of the German system of gymnastics, in Germany, and they desired that their children should be trained in the same school of physical culture.
The first meeting was held in a cottage on Pearl-st., and sixteen persons attended. Peter Baumgras, who was an artist, and who is now in Chicago, was the first president. The society prospered and continued to grow. Meetings were held in the cottage on Pearl-st. for some time, and then headquarters were removed to the rear of the present Union office on North Ealina-st. [Salina-st.], where there was a vacant lot. A change was soon afterwards made to the next block. In 1860 the building was burned and the Turners lost all their property. Before the fire the society had attained a membership of 150, but after that it lost ground until the roll showed only the number with which it had originally been set on foot. But a lot was secured on Pond-st., and the Turners erected a one-story building. Here they remained until 1863, when they removed to the corner of Lodi and John-sts., and erected another building.
In 1866 the Turners bought for $1,500 the hotel property known as the Center house, and this was remodeled. On December 17, 1867, this building was also burned. They remained without any place of their own until March, 1869, when it was suggested that a new hall be built. A committee consisting of George Valentine Schilly, Henry Genzel, Carl Gut, Anton Aman and Christian Freeoff, was appointed to have the plans drawn up. An [On] April 25 the committee was authorized to close a contract for the erection of the building. On July 4 the corner-stone was laid with imposing ceremonies. The work went on rapidly and the Turners themselves assisted in the building every night when their day’s work was done. The history of the society since that time is too well known to need recapitulation here.
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