Caption under full page picture reads Members of the Saengerbund in the year 1864
The financial crisis also had a bad influence on the prosperity of the German Young Men's Association. The monthly meetings lacked interest and therefore were given up, and the business affairs were turned over to ten members, with a board of administration at the head. Through this change the interest of the members decreased and many of them resigned. Consequently the revenues were reduced and the plays had to be stopped. The number of members had dropped in 1860 to 65 and in April 1861 even to 54. Something had to be done to put a stop to the going down of the Association and to introduce energetic means to improve it again.
The society for the first time for a number of years again arranged a St. John's festival. Although the financial result was not as brilliant as years before at the picnics, they had a profit of $400, and this enabled them to pay their most pressing debts, and to take better care of the library. The new sign of life and the re-establishment of the monthly meetings for all members, revived the prosperity of the society. The number of members increased from year to year, and in 1866 had grown to 200. The library contained 273 volumes .
The first quarter of a century since its existence was celebrated by the Association in 1866, with a public meeting, a grand banquet and a ball, which took place in the "National Halle" (Turn Hall). The festal speech on this occasion was made by August Thieme, the editor of the "Wächter am Erie", who had come from Cleveland for that purpose. Under the influence of enthusiastic speeches a subscription for the benefit of the library brought $850, collected during the banquet.
From the year 1870 journals of science and belles-lettres were displayed in the reading-room of the society. In the same year the Association decided to admit widows, independent unmarried women and young ladies as passive members; that is, as members who were not allowed to vote nor to take an office in the society. This had been proposed by Dr. F.A. Haupt, who had been for a long time the faithful and intelligent librarian of the Association. In April 1875 the society disposed of a surplus of $800, of which $500 was laid aside as a permanent fund. Books were to be bought with the interest of this sum. By bequests this fund grew to $2000, and is administered separate from the other property of the Association.
Among the prominent men who under the direction of the German Young Men's Association gave lectures, the following are worthy to be mentioned: Friedrich Hecker, who in the winter of 1873 spoke about the "Atlantissage" [The Saga of Atlantis]. Dr. Gerhard Rohlfs, the famous traveller through Africa, lectured on the 30th of November 1875 on his visit to the "Sultan of Morocco", and on the 6th of December on his journey
through Africa from the Mediteranean Sea to the Golf [sic] of Genoa. Traveller Robert von Schlagintweit, the writer, described on the 18th of April 1880 the life of the people in India. He was followed by another author and poet, Friedrich von Bodenstedt, who lectured twice on "Mirza Schaffy"; and at last spoke the famous natural philosopher, Alfred Edmund Brehm.
The Building of Music Hall
The twenty-third Saengerfest of the German Saengerbund of North America, which was held in Buffalo in the summer of 1883, required the building of a suitable hall. Who was to undertake its erection? The German Young Men's Association took charge of this matter. Jacob F. Schoellkopf, Sr. and Philip Becker, both prominent representatives of the Germans, purchased the former property of Judge Ebenezer Walden, which was situated between Main and Franklin Streets on Edward Street, and had an area of 213 by 538 feet. At the request of these gentlemen and Mr. Albert Ziegele, Sr., the German Young Men's Association came to the conclusion not only to purchase the lot but also to erect a magnificent building, which should in the first place be the assembly hall for the "Saengerfest", and afterwards the center of all German social efforts, and serve the unions as their homes. This was the beginning of "Music Hall".
In consideration of the enterprise it was necessary to amend the charter of the society, introducing the provision that the society was allowed to hold property up to the value of $500,000; and that two new organizations of the authorities should be created, namely a
Caption under picture at center reads Active Members of the Buffalo Saengerbund 1898
council of five directors and one of five real-estate commissioners. The first directors were: J. Adam Lautz, F.G. Georger , Alexander Cordes, Dr. John Hauenstein and Edward Warner. The first real-estate commissioners were: J.F. Schoellkopf, Philip Becker, Albert Ziegele, John Greiner and F.C.M. Lautz. In October 1882 the membership amounted to 185. The library contained 6730 volumes.
Twelve plans for the new building were presented, and those of architect August Esenwein were considered the best and were accepted by the building committee. The latter had been organized on the 23rd of July 1882 with J.F. Schoellkopf as president and Albert Ziegele as secretary. The collection for the building fund went on with great zeal. About $235,000 had to be raised, as $75,000 had to be paid down for the lot and the building required $160,000. Messrs. Becker, Schoellkopf, and Ziegele gave each $1,000 for the enterprise. Other wealthy Germans also were very liberal. Those who contributed $50 became members for life. Bonds were issued at the rate of $25 and more for the time of 30 years, with the privilege to redeem them after ten years. During the time of building these bonds were vested upon the principal sum with 5% interest.
On the 21st of November 1882 the ground was broken for the new building, and on the 5th of March 1883 the corner stone was laid. When the great "Saengerfest", which began on the 16th of July, was held, the interior of the building was not quite completed. It had a frontage of 200 feet on Main Street and a depth of 234 feet on Edward Street. After the "Sängerfest" the inside of the building was finished. The first meeting of the German Young Men's Association in their new home took place on the 7th of November 1883. The banquet hall and parlors for the social affairs of the Association were on the second
Caption under picture at center reads Four Generations, Philip Weber, Son, Grandson and Great-Grandson
Caption under full-page picture reads Buffalo Harbor during a storm.
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Revised March 27, 2005