YOUNGSTOWN Maennerchor marks its 140th anniversary
By LINDA M. LINONIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Musical memories spanning more than a century will be showcased when the Youngstown Maennerchor, organized Jan. 4, 1863, as a German men's singing society, celebrates its 140th anniversary.
An open house will start at 4 p.m. Saturday at the club, 831 Mahoning Ave., and also will feature a banquet, program and music. The banquet is scheduled for 7 p.m. with a social time starting at 6. Reservations must be made by Thursday by calling (330) 746-9322.
The 16-member mixed chorus will perform patriotic American selections and German folk songs.
Another highlight will be a display of memorabilia tracing the history and heritage of German immigrants in the Mahoning Valley.
Wolfgang Wengler, Youngstown Maennerchor historian and a past president, said among the items will be anniversary program books starting from the 25th and continuing to the present along with other vintage concert programs and photos. Concert tapes, dating from 1946, will be available to be played. Wengler will offer a short program reviewing the group's history.
One of the oldest bits of memorabilia will be a booklet from 1912 that includes information about The Rundschau, a German-language publication established by William F. Maag Jr., publisher of The Vindicator and founder of WFMJ.
The Maennerchor is one of the oldest clubs in Youngstown and the second oldest German singing club in Ohio. In its early years, the organization's headquarters moved around for various reasons until finding a home in 1875 at Arms Hall.
After a stay of 14 years at Arms Hall, the club moved to different locations in the Youngstown area. Then in 1925, the organization was able to buy its current building and after renovations were completed, started using the facility in 1926.
Among German legacies to the Valley was the founding of churches built from 1850 to 1859 including Martin Luther Lutheran Church, which still exists. Another site, the grist mill at Mill Creek Park, was established by German immigrants German Lanterman and Sam Kimberly.
A continuing tribute to local German heritage is a radio program with hosts Helga and Wolfgang Wengler. It had been airing from 11 a.m. to noon Saturdays on WKTL 90.7 in Struthers but broadcasts will be suspended until February while the station undergoes renovations. The Wolfgangs have been affiliated with the 22-year-old show for 20 years.
Over the years, the organization served as the host for Ohio District concerts that were held in 1935 at Stambaugh Auditorium and in 1972 at Powers Auditorium. Most recently, the organization was the host in 2002 for a district event that attracted 400 singers in programs at Liberty High School and the Holiday Inn MetroPlex in Liberty.
Youngstown Maennerchor will continue its musical tradition and will present a concert May 31. Guest choirs have been invited to perform. Though music is still at the heart of the organization it has expanded its activities to golf and boccie leagues.
The organization elected its first female president, Karen Grope of Youngstown, in 2001, who continues in that role.