German Roots in Washington
The Washington Saengerbund was founded in April 1851 by a group of German-American men who sang in the choir of Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church. Known for its secular music-making at its own concerts and special events around the area, the Saengerbund grew to become a major musical and social institution and brought together a veritable "Who's Who" of German-Americans here in the nation's capital. From 1874 to 1893, the Saengerbund met above "Baldy" Dismer's restaurant at 708 K St., NW. In 1894, the Saengerbund opened its own new clubhouse at 314 C Street NW, where it remained until 1928.Frank and Nancy Pierce's "The Washington Saengerbund: A History of German Song and German Culture in the Nation's Capital," published by the Saengerbund in 1981, gives a description of the C Street clubhouse taken from the Washington Post of 4 November 1894:
Saengerbund Ticket. The elite of Washington's German-American community held membership in the Saengerbund, which offered 'active' and 'passive' categories. This was and is a fun-loving, dedicated, creative as well as talented crew, as their event calendars have shown over the years.
The Washington Saengerbund Festival Day July 7, 1862
"The present home of the society is one of the finest occupied by any club in the city. It is the handsome brownstone front structure at 314 C Street northwest, having been recently purchased by the society at a cost of $15,000. . . .
"The building contains nineteen rooms, each of which is elegantly furnished throughout. Wide marble steps lead to the corridor and on the front door is a handsome plate bearing the name 'Saengerbund.' . . . The interior furnishings include large Bohemian crystal chandeliers, rare oil paintings, marble busts of famous musicians and a Steinway Grand square piano which cost $1,000. The hall for rehearsals is located on the third floor.
"The other part of the building is divided into many rooms appropriately fitted to the use of the Society, all elegantly furnished and complete in all their appointments. . . . Every night the rooms are filled with members of the club and their friends and the motto of the organization seems to be sing, eat, drink, and be merry."
The building was razed in 1931. The US Court for the District of Columbia now occupies the site of the society's long-time home in the old downtown.