After looking over many potential locations the hall committee of the Denver Turnverein, under the leadership of “Jake” Schaetzel, heard of a dancing-club house in foreclosure at 16th and Clarkson. Ten members pledged one hundred dollars each as down-payment and the “Coronado Club” became the new home of the Denver Turners.
The following is an exerpt from a historical paper written by Mrs. George H. Dienst, and edited by LeAnn Stelser:
“The building, (The Coronado Club), however, with its velour drapes and crystal chandeliers, was built for anything but a gymnasium. The chandeliers, of course, were the first to suffer when hit by the volley balls. The soda fountain was converted into a bar, but a shower and locker room and an apartment for the custodian also became necessities. A stage was erected in the Rathskeller for various entertainments and theatrical performances. A hutch, connected to one of the doors, was built to store gym apparatus. The artists Carstens and Timm added much of interest when they painted mottos and murals of scenes in Germany and Colorado on the walls in the Rathskeller. With all these assets plus its terraced landscaping, it was a building to be proud of. The first social affair in the new home was the bond-raising banquet. Most members purchased bonds within their means and with the proceeds of the bond sales and the sale of the Santa Fe lots, the Turnverein acquired a new financial foundation.
By this time the gym classes had grown to such an extent that at times the hall was almost too small. The attendance in the women’s class increased to over seventy. Ruth Drumm Witting was the instructor, leading exercises consisting of floor work, glancing, wands, dumb bells, and Indian club swinging. Mrs. Witting was the first in the country to instruct physical culture over radio. Her sister, Ella Ehmke, accompanied all of the exercises. The women’s and girl’s gym attire has undergone a drastic change over the years. Imagine doing strenuous exercises in long, heavy underwear which stretched from neck to ankles, long black cotton hose, and an ‘Anstands Unterrock’ (a modesty underskirt). Over these went a fancy full-starched petticoat, and topping all the undergarments was a long, dark blue serge dress with long sleeves, sailor collar, and white braid trimming. As the years went on, the feminine uniform dwindled to a modestly long, full bloomer and middy, and finally, for the ladder work, the girls worn only a bra and very short pants.
The men’s gym classes, the Baeren Riga (senior men), and the children’s classes were instructed by Arthur Ulrich and Fred Rinne, with exhibitions being held in the City Auditorium. The system of exercises had changed drastically from the time Jacob Schmitt, who was instructor in the East Denver Turnverein and In the public schools of Denver. He, like Turnvater Jahn, was a strict disciplinarian. He beat time with a wand, tapping on the floor and counting, “vun, two, tree, vun, two tree,” as exercises and marching drills of militaristic style were executed. Anyone out of step would be rapped on the shoulder with his wand, and absenteeism was not tolerated!
By about 1925 the Auxiliary had a membership of over two hundred, the largest in the United States. In 1932 the Auxiliary became affiliated with the Denver Federation of Federated Women’s Clubs: it was the only national Turner Auxiliary so honored. “After Pearl Harbor, there was much to be done for our soldiers and their needy ones left at home. The Women’s Auxiliary organized a Red Cross Unit and thousands of hours were spent in sewing, knitting, and in working in the Red Cross canteens and blood banks. Over 120 pints of blood was donated, and the members sponsored a ward of one hundred men at Fitzsimmins Hospital. When the Red Cross terminated this relief work, letters from Germany, asking for food and clothing, poured in at the many civic offices in Denver. An Auxiliary Welfare Unit was formed which, with aid from several other organizations, was able to send over 6,000 pounds of food, clothing, school supplies, tools, etc. to the needy overseas. Though this relief was ended in 1952, most of the charter members are still at work making cancer pads for Denver and Colorado General Hospitals.”
When World War II broke out, the activities of the Denver Turnverein slowed considerably, although the Government had adopted a more enlightened policy in the treatment of American citizens of Germen origin than that of World War I. One by one active Turners went into the service, until only a few of the older men remained.
But once again the Denver Turnverein weathered the crisis and after the war, the membership was slowly built up again. A new wave of German immigrants entered the United States in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, bringing new blood into the Turnverein.
Many G. I.s that have spent a hitch of service in Germany, have learned to love German customs, culture and Gemuetlichkeit and have joined the Turnverein in the last decade, so that today, the Turnverein counts many active Americans as members.
The Denver Turnverein has been in its present home, on 1570 Clarkson Street, since 1922. For many years there was a pretty lawn around the place and the sign over the front door read: “Denver Turnverein-Coronado Club”. Parking space had been badly needed for a long time. Finally, in 1962, the present parking lot was leveled and paved In 1963, the name “Coronado Club” was taken down and replaced with the name “German House”. (End of excerpt.)
In 2008 the Denver Turnverein changed its name to the Turnverein Dance and Cultural Center. The new name better reflects the function of the organization as a center of dance, arts, community and more…in the heart of Denver
Due to declining membership, the German Lodge last met in July of 2012.
DANCE HISTORY and ART SHOWS AT THE TURNVEREIN:
Now the Turnverein is primarily a non-profit membership dance organization. The first dance club was Tango Colorado (Argentine Tango), which was formed in 1996 with 31 members, and now numbers over 500 members. In 2001 the Colorado Swing Dance Club, a lindy hop club, became a member club of the Turnverein. In May of 2005 the Rocky Mountain Swing Dance Club (West Coast Swing) moved to the Turnverein, and in October of 2005 the Turnverein became the home of Salsa Central Denver. The first Dance Bash (Saturday ballroom dances once or twice a month) was held October 18, 2006. Ballroom dancing began weekly on Mondays in December of 2006. You can now dance and take lessons at the Turnverein six or seven days a week. (The Saturday events vary.) See the calendar for further details.
We also starting haveing art shows at the Turnverein in 2009.