A Home of our Own
In November, 1890, a lot on Hudson Street, the present site of the society, was purchased for the sum of $3,500. This deal was put through by a committee composed of Robert Riedel, John Keller, Joseph Heinrich and John Bishof.
The new hall was the scene of many memorable festivities. Among the most prominent was the dedication of the first society flag, which was presented to the society by the newly organized Ladies’ Auxiliary September 17, 1892, of which Mrs. George Dietrich was the first president.
The flag cost $120. The silk streamers of the Austrian colors, and bearing the society’s name were presented by the Austro-Hungarian Counsel, Max Schamberg. Miss Kate Koenig and Joseph Bollinger were the sponsors.
Saturday morning at 3 o’clock, November 10th, 1894, the hall was destroyed by fire, the origin of which is still a mystery. The debt of the society was $3,100, and the insurance amounted to $3,000, which was paid after several weeks.
The Harmonie Society offered the society their rooms to hold their meetings, and the Turner Hall was used to celebrate their yearly anniversary. The society then again rented the O’Shea Hall, and at the first meeting it was decided to use $950 of the insurance money to purchase new instruments for the band.
It was also determined to borrow $6,000 at six per cent interest to be invested in a new hall. On May 25th, 1895 a contract was let to Wm. H. Smith and Bros., for $5,998, and the hall was ready for occupancy on December 1, 1895.
At the celebration of the dedication every member paid the admission of one dollar per person. The building committee who earned the commendation of all the members of the society were August Mayer, John Zabel, Frank Partsch, Ernest Heinrich, Joseph Reiser, Frank Heinrich, John Stibich, John Goetz, and Robert Riedel. The first committee that helped to make the dedication a success was composed of Robert Riedel, John Beitel, Frank Lux, John Goetz, Joseph Zwiener, Joseph Riedel, V. Reppneg, John Bishof and R. Niessner.
The Ladies’ Auxiliary lent very valuable aid during some of the trying situations, and not only saved the society money by donating their services, but also helped materially in their efforts to gather money into the treasury. Since then the society has steadily increased in membership, and made great progress in financial matters.
The debt of $9,000 made since 1895 has been paid and a surplus is in the treasury.
In 1900 it was possible to dedicate a new society flag by giving a concert and ball. The speakers at this occasion were G. A. Ende of Pittsburgh, Joseph Zwiener and Christ Schmalz. Miss Lena Seibert recited a stirring festival poem. The German Singing Societies sang very appropriate German songs. The social affairs that were held in the hall in the winter, and in the open air in the summer were all very enjoyable, being largely attended and of a strictly German character. There were several German theatrical plays in the hall, which were greatly enjoyed by all the members.
On February 26th, 1908 a German Memorable Night was held in the hall, when all the German societies of Johnstown were invited to attend a “Vereins-Abend.” The hall was a sea of electrical brilliancy and with the five long white covered tables, and flowers that were placed on the tables that made a very beautiful effect. The speakers of the evening were Hon. Ernest Stahl of Trenton, N. J., and Adolph Timm, of Philadelphia, Pa. The toastmaster was John Meise.
The many concerts, masked balls, Christmas tree raffles, etc., were all well supported and quite successful. The appearance of Franz Reilhofer Troupe of Tyrolion Singers was very much enjoyed by the society members and other German societies. A large sum of money was donated to the German-American Alliance in 1913 to help erect a monument in honor of Joseph Schantz, founder of Johnstown, PA.