Typical of many Germans when they gathered at that time, Liederkranz members sought to combine the love of singing with fellowship and good food and drink, making the amenities of a clubhouse very important. August Spanuth, in his foreword to Hermann Mosenthal’s fiftieth anniversary history of the Liederkranz, wrote that during the early years members missed the "common social base" that a clubhouse would provide, leading to disputes and defections. (1, p.V) A number of members left the Liederkanz to form The Arion in 1854 (1, p. 16).
During the first five years, the clubhouse location moved once or twice a year. From 1852 to 1863, the Liederkranz met and held concerts at the Pythagoras Hall on 136 Canal Street. In early diary entries, William Steinway refers to Pythagoras Hall as "the Pit." From 1863 through 1880, the clubhouse was at 31-33 East 4th Street; an adjoining house at #35 was added in 1869. In 1881 a Building Committee of fifty members purchased land at 111-119 East 58th Street. William Steinway, who was then President of the Liederkranz, chaired the Building Committee and raised $150,000 in two days. He was also responsible for holding down expenses, noting in his diary that he cut expenses by $30,000.(Diary, 1881-10-18) The Hall’s cornerstone was laid on October 1, 1881. The new hall opened on November 26, 1882, with a dedication concert and dedication address by William Steinway.
Liederkranz Clubhouse on 58th Street
The new clubhouse served its members well until the mid-20th century. Architects William Kuhles and H. J. Schwarzmann designed a three-story brownstone and brick building in German Renaissance style. The ground floor included a large hall for dining, dancing, and entertainments; a bowling alley; a wine room (Weinstube); kitchen; and club offices. On the main floor, reached by monumental stairs, members could enjoy reading over 40 magazines and newspapers in both English and German, dining, billiards and pool. There were also card rooms, a bar, and a large rehearsal room lined with cabinets to house the extensive collections of music. On the second floor was the Concert Hall or Grand Ballroom, which seated 1,200 comfortably and was noted for its fine acoustics and tasteful decorations designed by George Herzog.
Forecourt of the Grand Ballroom of Liederkranz Hall
1. Mosenthal, Hermann. Geschichte des Vereins deutscher Liederkranz in New York. New York: F.A. Ringler Company, 1897.