The Early Years
Between 1890 and 1913, several new Verein joined the Troy Germania Hall. This included:
Deutscher Club, founded 1891, President, H. Ekhart
Lyra Club, founded 1893, President Mrs. Schlagheist
Krieger Verein, founded 1896, President Franz Stadler
Maennerchor-Damen Verein, founded 1906, President Frau L. Schneider
Frauen Verein Badina, founded 1913, President Mrs. Frieda Nold
Prior to 1919, the expenses of the Association were met both through the collection of rents from the Societies within the Association and from fees paid by others for the use of the hall. Some societies were delinquent in the payment of rent, causing the trustees to be hard-put to meet their financial obligations. Because of their monetary plight. the trustees proposed at the Annual Meeting, that all of the German societies, within the area become part of the German Hall Association and thus unite their combined financial standing to assist in the payment of the Hall's outstanding obligations and the general maintenance of the hall building. It was found impossible to satisfy all groups concerned and the resolution failed to be adopted. The Trustees, showing their obvious displeasure at the resolution's defeat, resigned in a body. In order to form a new Board of Directors to carry on the business of the Hall, a meeting was held on April 7, 1919, at which a new board and officers were elected.
The new Board of Directors, as one of their first actions, decided that in order to augment the income derived from rents, a series of Saturday Evening Socials should be held. These proved to be very popular, providing a place for the German community and their friends to meet and socialize. As anticipated, the additional income helped the Board to meet their financial obligations.
In 1935, a new club joined the Hall Association, the German-American Rod & Gun Club. It's first President was Louis Schaudt.
In 1940, it was again proposed at the Annual Meeting, that all German Societies* join the Association as dues paying members. At the Annual Meeting of 1942, the Constitution was changed whereby shareholders were eliminated and only dues paying members were retained. On advise of Counsel, the shares were declared void. Eminent Counsel had ruled otherwise as far back as 1897, but as a result of the legal ruling the Trustees, after almost 60 years, felt obliged to refuse to purchase, sell or otherwise honor shares of stock in the Association. This action of the Board also opened the way to membership in the Hall Association to those wishing to join as social members without becoming members of an inner organization.
In January 1948, a disastrous fire destroyed the fourth floor and roof of the hall. At the time of the fire, the Trustees carried fire insurance to the extent of $15,000, on the building, and $3,000 on its furnishings. A general meeting was called, to be held at the Eldorado Hotel, at which it was decided to rebuild the hall building. Mr. George Betke submitted plans for the reconstruction, which provided for the elimination of the seldom used fourth floor, thus converting the structure into three floors. By September, the hall reconstruction was completed and the hall was reopened to general use. The cost of remodeling and alterations amounted to $35,000, which was financed by insurance amounting to $17,000, a $3,000 mortgage, and over $5,000, which was subscribed by members and friends.
In 1951, the Trustees were notified by the Troy Housing Authority that the Hall building was situated in an area where all structures were to be demolished to provide space for an upcoming Low Income Government Subsided Housing Project, making it necessary to vacate all buildings in the area. Our beloved German Hall was earmarked for demolition, along with the other buildings within the construction zone.
An offer of $75,000 was made for the acquisition of the building site. The Trustees rejected the offer as insufficient to replace the structure. The following Societies were affiliated with the Hall Association at that time:
Troy Maennerchor, Bruno Anderson, President
German Club, Peter Goedtl, President
Cannstatter Volksfest Verein, Gottlieb Speidel, President
Frosch Club, Paul Reinhardt, President
Badischer K. U. V., Franz Rebel, President
Maennerchor Damen-Verein, Mrs. H. Kreis, President
Lyra Club, Mrs. Vincentia Prediger, President
Badina Damen-Verein, Mrs. Rose Goetz, President
German-American Rod and Gun Club, John Schlegel, President
During its lifetime, the original Germania Hall building was the scene of many notable events, both musical and social. Madame Schuman Heink, of international fame, graced our stage, as did many other notables. The Hall was host to many Saengerfests, Turnfests, German Picnics, German Plays and Motion Pictures, and other forms of community entertainment. To relive some of those days would be a rare treat to our older members, and a thrill to most of our newer members. The Presidents and Trustees of those trying years are to be commended for their dedication to the Hall Association, and for their generosity, in giving not only of their time, but also of their money for the benefit of others. They were exceptional people. After dealing with the fire and the ensuing reconstruction, losing the Hall structure again over the course of four years was a crushing blow to the German community of Troy and the surrounding area. They were at a loss to find a place large enough that was suitable for their purposes, and in such a short time frame, for the hall building was to be vacated on April 1, 1952. The date set for the departure was March 29, and 30, 1952. On Saturday, the 29th, a Farewell Dinner-Dance was held, and on Sunday, the 30th, a ceremony commemorating the Hall's closing was held. It was anything but a gala occasion.
The Loyal Order of Moose very generously invited the affiliated organizations to use their lodge on Seventh Avenue as a temporary home until a solution for a new home for Germania Hall could be found. While the organizations call the Moose Lodge their official home, the Board of Trustees and members were busy looking for a suitable building in which to house the organization. At long last, (approximately 12- 15 months), a building of sound structure was located at the corner of First and State Streets. It was owned by the City of Troy, and was soon to be auctioned at public sale. Mr. George Betke and Mr. Andrew Schneider, Financial Secretary and Treasurer, respectively, went to the auction and with the consent of the Board of Trustees, managed to purchase the building at 17 First Street for the sum of $24,000. The German Hall Association had a new home. Soon the new building was occupied, but, after a close appraisal of the costs necessary to remodel the structure to suit the Hall's purposes, it was decided they would be too prohibitive to be practical.
So again, the hunt for a new home was on. Soon, the sentiment began to be for the Hall Association to build a new structure to house the Hall. The hunt was on again, but this time for a suitable building lot. So it was that the lot on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 107th Street came into consideration. Upon inquiring into the purchase of the lot it was found that a clear deed was not to be had and it required some time and legal handling to clear the lot of any claims before the purchase was made. This being accomplished, Clarence Rhodes was chosen as the contractor for the new building, and under the guidance of the building committee, composed of Richard Heilman, chairman, William Kunz, and Karl Haeussel, along with the other members of the Board of Trustees, ground was broken on November 11, 1953 for the new Germania Hall.