Turner Hall Ballroom

1040 Vel R. Phillips Ave Milwaukee

Milwaukee's Music Scene/Turner Hall Ballroom
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History of Turner Hall

Turner Hall is a historic athletic club facility at 1034 North 4th Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Named using the German "Turnen", meaning gymnastics or physical fitness, it is significant for its association with the American Turners, a German-American athletic, cultural, and political association. The Milwaukee group was founded in 1853 under the title, "Socialist Turnverein"; its leaders included Socialist Congressman Victor Berger. This is one of the largest surviving buildings of the Turner movement. Today, it serves as a performance venue and meeting space.

Built out of brick, Turner Hall is a four-story masonry building in the High Victorian style. When you look at the front you will notice the elaborate facade and multiple gables near the outer corners. Inside the building includes a ballroom, restaurant, beer hall and meeting rooms. The basement houses a gymnasium.

The building was designed by architect Henry C. Koch, and was completed in 1882. In keeping with the Turner movement's philosophy, the interior is decorated with artwork, including rare murals by German immigrant artists. Stained glass windows are adorned with political slogans relating to the Turner's progressive political stances. In 1994 the Governor proclaimed Turner Hall one of the "Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites" in Wisconsin. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996. In 2000, The Milwaukee Turners established the Turner Ballroom Preservation Trust to renovate and maintain the building. It now hosts a wide variety of concerts. The Turner Hall Ballroom was awarded the "Venue of the Year" at the 2010 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) awards.

Cover image by Georgia Hinaris is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

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