more than 130 years ago, Turner Hall honors Milwaukee’s rich German
heritage in every sense of the word. The building was designed by a
German architect, named after a German-American association and
remains under the supervision of that same organization. Here’s a
look into the distinguished landmark’s history and legacy.
in 1882 and dedicated the following year, Turner Hall was designed by
architect and German immigrant Henry H. Koch. Koch also served as the
architectural designer for Milwaukee’s famed City Hall and The
four-story, multiuse building boasts a restaurant and bar, two-story
ballroom, and two-story gymnasium. Its Cream City brick exterior pays
tribute to Milwaukee’s architectural heritage, further enhancing the
facade’s Romanesque design style. Dramatic murals, iron-clad stairs
and intricate woodwork fill the interior.
3. Turner Hall
is the only building in Milwaukee that holds the following three
architectural and historical designations: a National Landmark, a
listing on the National Registry of Historic Places and a local
The building is named after the Milwaukee Turners, an organization
derived from the German Turnverein associations of the early 19th
century. Founded in 1811 by Frederick Ludwig Jahn to prepare youth for
resistance to Napoleon’s regime, these associations used gymnastic
training as a form of preliminary and inconspicuous military training.
5. The Turner
motto, "Sound mind in a sound body," forms the basis of
Turner Hall’s mission and vision for its future. The expression
represents the Turners’ belief that human potential is realized
through both intellectual and physical development.
6. A testament
to its motto, the Turners procured its name from the German word for
gymnastics, "turnen." The Turner School of Gymnastics, which
is housed within Turner Hall, remains a trademark of the organization,
offering recreational gymnastics classes to all ages and skill levels.
Two ceiling fires damaged Turner Hall Ballroom in 1933 and 1941,
causing the Milwaukee Turners to shut its doors. In 2000, the Turner
Hall Preservation Trust was established to build community support and
raise funds to restore the venue. The ballroom reopened in 2006 after
undergoing a multiphase renovation project.
8. In 2007, the
Pabst Theater Foundation assumed entertainment operations for Turner
Hall Ballroom. The venue now regularly hosts both established and
emerging artists, supporting Milwaukee’s vibrant performing arts