Early German Influence in Lancaster and a History of the Liederkranz
A colonial school of higher learning, which in effect was a German Boys High School, was organized in Lancaster to, "Unite the different religious sects, introduce the English language among the German citizens, preserve the German language from extinction and corruption and to qualify sons of Germans to serve in the legislature, etc." That school still exists and is today known as Franklin and Marshall College.
Today - The Lancaster Liederkranz continues to operate as a vital and growing family-oriented organization. It perpetuates and amplifies its worthy original purpose of promoting German culture and customs through music, song, dance, art, language, and international exchange. The Liederkranz welcomes men and women of good will who share its purpose. Come visit and you'll find that Gemütlichkeit prevails.
1837 - The German Literary Society was organized in Lancaster.
1854 - The Lancaster Social Turngemeinda was in existence in the city.
1858 - The Lancaster Männerchor was organized.
1873 - The Liederkranz formed in the Manor Hotel, 355 West King Street, Lancaster.
1880 - The Liederkranz was chartered by the Lancaster County Court and moved to quarters in the Schiller Haus, 283 North Queen Street, Lancaster. This is recognized as the official start of the present day Liederkranz - July 4, 1880, our birthday.
1888 - The Liederkranz along with the Lancaster Männerchor and the Arbeiter Männerchor participated in their first NÖSB (Northeast Sängerbund) Sängerfest.
1890 - The Germania Männerchor was organized by a group who separated from the Liederkranz. They built a large hall at 240 North Prince Street which later burned down. During World War I the Germania Männerchor disbanded. A small group of its members formed the Concordia Singing Society at 132 North Water Street with the majority returning to the Liederkranz. The Concordia later disbanded.
1909 - The Lancaster Männerchor and the Arbeiter Männerchor consolidated with the Liederkranz. Frank Rieker, Lancaster's brewing king, arranged for the money to renovate a building on Prince and German Streets (now Prince and Farnum) with the addition of a concert hall/ballroom and Rathskeller. The Liederkranz moved into these facilities the following year.
1911 - The Liederkranz Ladies Auxiliary was formed.
1917 - A Summer Home and picnic ground was purchased at Sunny Side.
1917 - With the coming of World War I German popularity declined. Even some of the street names were changed with German Street becoming Farnum Street after the name of the adjacent cotton mill and Freiburg Street becoming Pershing Avenue after the name of John Joseph Pershing, the first American commander to lead US troops in Europe. In Manheim, Prussian Street was changed to Main Street. The court, however, requested the Liederkranz to remain intact and to continue with its singing of Deutsche Lieder.
1927 - Graf Felix Von Luckner arrived in Lancaster to promote funds for German relief. He was entertained by the Liederkranz Chorus at the Odd Fellows Hall at 213 West Chestnut Street.
1929 - The Liederkranz Kapelle was organized by Matt Gegg Sr., Guss Schultz and George Soeldner.
1930 - The Liederkranz celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its Charter in true German spirit. The Fulton Opera House was rented to receive none other than the great contralto Madam Ernestine Schumann-Heinke. It was a grand gala occasion as the Deutsches Volk assembled to hear the great lady sing.
1938 - The Liederkranz Kapelle changed its name to Landler Kapelle.
1939 - The Summer Home and picnic ground in Sunny Side was sold.
1942 - With the coming of World War II the facilities of the Liederkranz were thrown open to all men in uniform, as sons and daughters went forth to defend their country against their brothers and cousins who were following a different government and its philosophy of life. The court again requested the Liederkranz to remain intact and to continue with its singing of Deutsche Lieder. During this time all programs were opened with Stars and Stripes Forever and closed with the Star Spangled Banner.
1947 - The Liederkranz Ladies Auxiliary was reorganized.
1955 - The Liederkranz celebrated the 75th Anniversary of its Charter.
1958 - The first Liederkranz Schuhplattler group was organized, but remained active only a few years. It later reorganized in the 1970s as the Alpenrose Schuhplattlers and continues today as an active performing organization of the Liederkranz. During that time the first Kindergruppe was formed and danced actively for about six years.
1973 - The first Oktoberfest was held at the Guernsey Sales Barn on Lincoln Highway East at the junction of routes 30 and 896.
1978 - The Hobby Chor formed for men interested in singing lighter German songs than those generally sung by the chorus.
1992 - The Kindergruppe Schuhplattlers were reorganized for the children of members by Bob and Mary Ellen Kilp.
1993 - With the German influence in the neighborhood declining the facility at Prince and Farnum Streets was sold and the Liederkranz moved to the clubhouse and grounds of the Mt. Joy Legion at 722 South Chiques Road in Salunga, PA. The first events, the Club Picnic and Oktoberfest, at this new location were held respectively August and September. Official occupancy and ownership of the facility occurred November 3.
1994 - The first Maifest at the new club was held in the spring, but the weather proved to be a little too cool so the following year it was moved to June and changed to our current Sommerfest event.
1995 - The Liederkranz Constitution was changed opening the opportunity for full membership in all categories to women.
1997 - The Liederkranz hosts the 46 National Sängerfest of NÖSB for the first time in Lancaster at the Host Resort & Conference Center on Lincoln Highway East.
1998 - With the ladies taking a more active part directly in the club as members, the Ladies Auxiliary was disbanded. Active Membership was expanded to include not only the members of the chorus, but also the Hobby Chor and Schuhplattlers as well.
2001 - The Liederkranz hosts their first Kinderfest for the children's' Schuhplattler groups from throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.
2003 - Two changes were made to the Constitution.
- In the first, the membership agreed to treat the office of president the same as all other offices, other than the active membership requirement, by elimination the five-term limitation.
- In the second they increased the number of authorized trustees from five to seven.
- August 3 - The Liederkranz celebrated paying off the mortgage on the Salunga facilities with a mortgage burning ceremony at the annual Club Picnic.
2005 - January 29 - The Club holds its first Eisfest event. After attending a similar event in 2004 in Vilshofen, Germany while visiting his cousin, Rudi Thau, Club member Steve Feilmeier and a small group of his friends gathered around a bonfire for some wintertime gemütlichkeit at the Pavilion. The event, sponsored by and now called the "Friends of Steve Feilmeier Eisfest" is held each year in January. Steve passed away in 2012 of pancreatic cancer. The Friends of Steve also use the event to remember others affected by cancer and to raise funds for cancer research.
- June 12 (celebrating July 4 anniversary) - The Liederkranz celebrated it's 125th year Anniversary with a concert at McCaskey East High School auditorium in Lancaster. Although the actual anniversary day is July 4th the celebration was held on Sunday June 12th as the third day of Sommerfest weekend. All the club's organizations performed beautifully ...The Chorus, the Hobby Chor, the Alpenrose Schuhplattler Verein and their Kindergruppe and the Alleweil Jung German Folk Dancers. In addition, visiting choruses from New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and San Antonio, Texas all performed admirably. The concert was followed by a picnic for all at the club's grounds and pavilion.
2006 - The Club celebrated the first flag of the Alpenrose Schuhplattler Verein at their Fahnenweihe held at the Lancaster Host Resort, June 30 - July 2. The Fahne (flag) was hand made in Germany and is the visual representation of the Verein.2008 - July 18 - The Club holds its first Parrot Fest. In an effort to find a summer club event to replace the previously held annual Steak Fry, President Paul Stanavage organizes our first Parrot Fest. While a break from traditional German-style fests, Parrot Fest proves to be a solid fund-raiser for the Club and draws hundreds of "Parrot-heads" to enjoy margaritas, Corona, and the Jimmy Buffet-style music of "Jimmy and the Parrots."
2010 - The first Multi-Cultural Fest was held at the club's pavilion, June 13. This was a joint venture of the Lancaster Liederkranz, Lancaster Italian Cultural Society, and Lancaster Irish American Cultural Society. The day was celebrated with ethnic foods, drink, music, singing, and dancing. The Greek Society joined the venture in 2013.2011 - March 19 - The club hosts its first Jungendfest. The fest is designed for young adult schuhplattlers from groups in the mid-Atlantic region to display and be judged on their talents dancing an Einzel Plattl.- September 8 - Tropical storm Lee caused the Little Chiques Creek to rise and fall 18-1/2 feet in one day; flooding the ballroom in the lower level of the clubhouse and pavilion. Most picnic tables were lost in the flood. The annual Oktoberfest fundraiser fest, scheduled the following weekend had to be postponed until the end of October.2012 - The Club holds its first beer tasting event in the pavilion on August 18: "Smokin' Brews and Blues Fest." Over 20 breweries participated along with food service and live blues music.
2014 - Stream Bank Restoration Project - Due to the devastation by Tropical Storm Lee on Sept. 8, 2011, the Executive Committee appointed a Stream Bank Restoration Committee to oversee the project. The club joined with the Chiques Creek Watershed Association and worked with the Lancaster Co. Conservation District and Land Studies to plan and design the $210,000 project that stabilized the steam bank and provided additional floodplain area. The project began in February and was completed in May.
2015 - May 9 - The club held its first Maibaum Aufstellen, the raising of our new Maypole in the German tradition, by hand; and in conjunction with the event, held an attempt to break the Guinness World Record May Pole Dance.
- August 29 - The club received official announcement from Guinness that the Liederkranz officially holds the World Record as follows: Guinness World Records: The largest maypole dance consists of 326 participants and was achieved by Lancaster Liederkranz (USA) in Manheim, Pennsylvania, USA on 9 May 2015. All participants completed a traditional seven step dance in a circle around the maypole.
2016 - Under the management of member Elise Fasnacht, daughter of James and Monica Fasnacht, the Club holds its first Christkindlmarkt. This inaugural German-style Christmas Market held at the Pavilion, draws an estimated 1,000+ members and guests. A Christmas tree at the Pavilion was dedicated in memory of Monica, whose dream of a Christkindlmarkt is finally included in our annual schedule of fest events. The tradition continues each year on the 2nd Sunday in December.
2020 - In March of 2020 the Coronavirus, COVID-19 global pandemic led to frequent closures of the Club in accordance with PA Dept. of Health guidelines and a scaled-back celebration of the Club's 140th anniversary celebration on Sunday, July 4. The club continued limited social distancing events in the outdoor pavilion and clubhouse and takeout meals through the end of the year.
2022 - On June 2, the first woman President of the Lancaster Liederkranz, Renate McElheny, takes office. Renate previously held positions of Vice President and Recording Secretary.
Also on June 2, a seventh position was added to the Board of Officers per an amendment to the Club's Constitution. In addition to the Chorus having a representative on the Board of Officers, each year a rotating representative from one of the other three active cultural groups will be an Officer. First to sit from the Alpenrose Schuhplattler Verein is Paul Stanavage. Paul previously held the position of President of the Club.
- On June 18, the Liederkranz Chorus hosted the 54th Nordöstlicher Sängerbund Sängerfest through the tremendous efforts and dedication of its leadership, members, and volunteers. This video showcases the talents of individual choirs as they perform their own selections as well as joining together at the end of the concert with five mass choir pieces. The video is provided by Christopher Knoedler, director of the Washington Sängerbund: 54th Nordöstlicher Sängerbund Sängerfest, 2022
TODAY - The Lancaster Liederkranz continues to operate as a vital and growing family-oriented organization. It perpetuates and amplifies its worthy original purpose of promoting German culture and customs through music, song, dance, art, language, and international exchange. The Liederkranz welcomes men and women of good will who share its purpose. Come visit and you'll find that Gemütlichkeit prevails.