Created By: Old Cowtown Museum
The Turnverein Hall in the business district at Old Cowtown Museum represents the attempt of the expanding metropolitan community in early Wichita to organize social and cultural organizations.
The Germans were the largest ethnic group in Wichita and they were active in business, politics and society. The Turner Society, a German Fraternal organization was a distinctive group that included in its membership "the principal German element in the city."
The term "turnverein" is a German term referring to a club of "turners" or gymnasts. Their “exercise union,” stressed physical fitness, conducted exercise classes, and sponsored dances.
The motto above the northwest door proclaims, "Alert, happy and free, are the courageous sons of the gymnastics movement."
The motto by the stage states, "Friends are more important than fire, water, and bread."
Members introduced the Society to Wichita by announcing a grand ball and their objective of “developing strength, encouraging truth, protecting justice, and guarding liberty.” To support their promise of providing uplifting culture for the community, the Turnverein Society sponsored a number of public concerts, dances and balls, and athletic displays.
The Turners remained strong until the anti-German sentiment during WWI led many to downplay their German roots.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour