Tombstone Silver

Turnverein

The “Turners” opened the Turnverein Hall in Tombstone and it became important part of our social life.


Introduction

Turnverein was a gymnastics movement that started in Germany in 1811 but soon spread around the world and first appeared in Cincinnati and New York City in 1848. Tombstone had a Turnverein Hall at the corner of Fourth and Safford, a block behind Schieffelin Hall. It would have been about the size of a basketball court and had a hardwood floor. The Turnverein Club, often called "Turners," would have scheduled exercise classes and included floor mats, free weights, and other gymnastics equipment for club members to use.

Turnverein Hall in Milwaukee, WI, in 1910.

While no photos exist of the Tombstone Turnverein Hall, the photo at the right shows the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hall in 1910. It would be reasonable to assume that Tombstone’s Turnverein Hall would be smaller but would be similarly equipped. It is interesting to note that there is a piano or organ at the edge of the hall so music could be played during exercise sessions.

Tombstone’s Turnverein Hall was an important location for meetings and social events. While it is not possible to know how many people could fit in the hall, it is reasonable to assume that it would accommodate a crowd of about 150. Thus, Schieffelin Hall would be used for large events of up to 500 and the Turnverein Hall, just one block away, would be used for smaller events. The following notes were taken from the Epitaph Newspaper and illustrate the types of events that would have been hosted at the Turnverein Hall.


The dancing academy of Mesers. McCarty & Stewart has been continuing its lessons in the giddy art without an intermission from the start, some six weeks ago, and pupils who at that time found it difficult to catch the simplest step now pass through the dance with ease and grace. The class, which numbers about thirty members, meets every Wednesday and Saturday evenings at Turn Verein hall, where they receive instructions from the professors. Mr. McCarthy's method of teaching is so simple that it requires but a short time to become something of a dancer. Young ladies generally attend the class, and thus the lessons pass off very pleasantly.

The dance at the Turn Verein Hall tonight will be a grand affair and opening of the season. Over 100 tickets have already been sold and the committee expects to largely increase the number today.

[This short article was part of a report about the 4th of July activities that included "delegations from Tucson and Phenix."] This evening a reception will be given to the Tucson people and invited guests at Turn Verein Hall. The reception will commence at 7:30, and will consist of skating for about two hours, followed by dancing.


Location

The Turnverein Hall was located at the northeast corner of 4th and Safford Streets. That location is a private residence today and there is nothing remaining of the Hall. The Tombstone After Dark Ghost Tour and the Goodenough Historic Trolley Tour both pass that location, but I do not mention the Turnverein Hall.