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The memberes of the Germania

Verein (Club) met obove Pfister's Store in 1856.

The Germania Amateur Orcherstra which became the San Jose Symphony and lasted for 123 years practiced in the same rooms.


Pfister Block, also known as Century Block was built about 1880s.

Address given as south side Santa Clara Street, between Second and Third. Club address first mentioned 1878

Opening night for this new clubhouse was Nov. 16, 1882.

This building burned down 5 years later while the members were at a picnic at the Blackberry Farm

In 1889 the City direktory gives the address of the Germania Verein as 45 South Second Street, abobe Williams clothing store.

(Germania wrtten at the very top)

In 1892 the year the story appeared in the Mercury on New Years Day, the address is given as Lyon's Store, in the Alice Building, designed and built by the Lenzen brothers.

Germania is printed above Entry.

In 1923 the members of the Germania Verein bought the vacated King Conservatory of Music at 261 North Second Street. This has been the Clubhouse for the German American community ever since. The Germania Verein Amateur Orchestra played on Opening Night, December 13, 1894















The web site has been developed by Maria and Walter Brand. Maria has gathered an extensive history of the activities of German American Pioneers in the region now known as Silicon Valley (the City of San Jose, CA and the surrounding Santa Clara Valley).

My husband of 45 years passed away

Oct. 21, 2005. He suffered a cardiac arrest.

Happy New Year, Ein frohes, neues Jahr, Gesundheit und Zufriedenheit, und Erfolg in all Euren Unternehmungen wuenscht Euch von Herzen Maria Brand  Installation

 Thought for the   Month: Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling  and enduring and accomplishing.

 San Jose Daily Mercury: Friday    Morning, January 1, 1892




Music, Drama, Sociability

Its Achievements and Entertainment Are Told Of and Described

by President Henry L. Schemmel

       One evening in September, 1865, a party of ladies and gentlemen congregated in the garden of Adolph Pfister. During the progress of conversation it was suggested and agreed that they organize the Germania Verein. There was in the society a double quartet of mixed voices, composed of the following members; Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Pfister, Mr. and Mrs. L. Krumb, Dr. Eichler, Mr. and Mrs. August Habich, and Mrs. J. and M. Levy; Mrs. August Habich acted as musical director. Mr. Pfister offered his parlor and piano for their use in order to build up the society. Later on the club moved into club rooms on First Street, above Pfister’s old store. The club prospered in a quiet and modest way, the birthdays of members especially, more or less, being celebrated at the club-rooms.

              Besides entertaining their friends, fine concerts were given occasionally, gradually branching out and even producing such works as Romberg’s “ Lay of the Bell” and Niel’s “Gade’s  Earlking.” Miss Frederika Hoffman, now deceased, a sister of Charles E. Hoffman, the well-known mining engineer of this city, helped the society considerably, being one of the best pianists California ever had.

              In the meantime, the following members had joined the society ; J. Balbach, J and F. Feist, A. T. Hermann, V. Koch, H. Luse, H. Messing, Robert Page, J, H, Pieper, M. Stern, A. Schoenheit, Dr. Voight, H. and J. Waterman; and later on the club rooms were changed to the hall on Santa Clara Street, now occupied by Misses Lewis.

              At this time, in 1875, ladies were also eligible to membership; and the right to vote on all questions was theirs.             

              The first attempt made in producing theatrical pieces was made in 1872, Robert Page, L. Krumb and L. Englander taking part. In 1873, Emil Gramm, the violinist, and Max Bender  the writer appeared in San Jose. A new era in music began. Gramm was violinist of the most extraordinary ability, and many fine concerts of classical music were given at this time, his stay, however, was of short duration. After Gramm’s departure the work of elevating the taste for good music went steadily on. The clubrooms were found wanting in many respects, and on November 16, 1882, we moved from our quarters on Santa Clara Street to our now and cozy hall on South Second Street, opposite the Masonic Temple. Mrs. Nelly Eyster, a friend of the society, wrote a very fine prologue for the opening. This hall contained a beautiful stage fitted up with all modern improvements, and here the most successful theatrical efforts of the club were given.

              We organized a small orchestra consisting of J. G. d’ Ablaing, F.d’Ablaing, F. M. Pfister, A. Sauffrignon, S. E. Smith, J, W. Macaulov, known as the Germania Amateur Orchestra. Rapidly the membership grew, until it became apparent that the orchestra was too powerful for our small Germania club hall, and on that account the name of the organization was changed to the San Jose Orchestral Society, which is to day the pride of our Garden City. Up to the present time a feeling of close alliance between the two organizations exists, they being always ready to help each other when called upon. The Germania Amateur Orchestra still meets once in a while upon the call of the committee. The orchestra, besides giving the club many fine concerts, assisted in carrying on operatic performances, and playing at dramatic entertainments; of which there have been a great many, now numbering over one hundred and thirty-seven light comedies, nineteen dramas and thirteen operettas; among the latter Flotter Bursche, Ten Maidens, But no new Husband, Salon Schulze, by Suppe; also Paquerette by Offenbach.They were probably the most perfect amateur performances ever given on this coast. Of great assistance in these performances were George C. Fricke, F. L. Goldstein, Captain W. F. Steinbuhler and others. Fricke was really a comedian of great merit.

              Every society has its ups and downs, and we too, had our share. The decline came. The dramatic portion of the club became somewhat demoralized, owing to a lack of interest.

Many of the most active members declined to take part more than twice a year. On April 18,1885, our most active member, Captain George Fricke, played for the last time, and shortly afterward left for San Francisco. The dramatic circle knew there was no one to replace him.

              However, a few members, R. Stock, William Grossmann and F. W. Marten, kept up the theatrical effort, but were not very successful. The audience, spoiled by splendid performances, could not be satisfied, especially owing to the absence of a good comedian and decrease of stage enthusiasm. Members became partly indifferent, partly dissatisfied, and in order to have at least a respectable close of the season the committee announced a club picnic  at Blackberry farm, now Glenbrook farm, to take place on May 6, 1885. On May 5th, the same year, at 12o’clock at night, the hall was destroyed by fire, and this ended, for the time being, a great struggle to keep up the society.  The insurance company very generously paid the full amount of the insurance. Whilst the building was not entirely destroyed there was complete sweep of the club’s property. This stopped further proceedings. The amateurs had a vacation, and the committee on the entertainment took a deep sigh of relief.

              The morning following the fire all the members with their families went as agreed to the picnic. Some were not even aware of what happened during the night. Those in charge of the club interests were however, in a very good humor even then. Before the fire we had a very fine stage and fine theatrical library, but no players. The old audience, dissatisfied members, a lease to run for several years yet, an entirely empty treasury with some debts and no chance to levy an assessment, this fire was an event most of the members welcomed.  The society was insured for $ 1,500.00, and those that were well informed knew that it would be paid in full, as it was. The amount was deposited in the bank, and the active members took a deserved rest.

              A small room was rented where a few gentlemen met once in a while, social intercourse an meetings were held occasionally and a committee was appointed the secure a new hall, however without success. There was nothing done until Jacob Lenzen, L. M. Pfister and H. L. Schemmel informed the society that they had leased a hall to be built by James Phelan Esq., of San Francisco, for a term of five years.

              A clause in the constitution made only those gentlemen eligible to membership who could speak the German language. Notice was given to annul this clause which was done by a unanimous vote on July 1, 1890.

              The society moved into the new quarters, and while some of the members looked at the undertaking as a very risky one, to-day it is an established fact that we are stronger than ever, the membership having increased within one year, from forty-one to one hundred and twenty-nine.

              The parties of the society are generally known to be rather family affairs. The society is noted for great respectability. Parents can take their daughters and sons to its rooms  with a perfect understanding that they will be well taken car of. Great care is always taken to invite only congenial friends, and, therefore, we may account for a certain feeling amongst our guests that they are at home. According to the expressed wishes of almost every member, the socials are understood to be informal. New Year’s and masquerade balls, however, are generally full dress and magnificent affairs.

              Amongst the visitors to the club we have entertained many great artists and literary men, also several organizations like ours from San Francisco; the expense of such entertainments running up as high as $500.00 at one time. The society has done much to elevate the musical taste of this city, more in fact than any other organization.

              Our most recent entertainment of note was “High Jinks” given on Thanksgiving Eve. The Hon. H. V. Morehouse was elected master of ceremonies for the evening. A huge bowl of champagne punch was brewed and a bountiful supply of viands, both substantial and delicious, together with good cigars, were provided for the comfort of the body, while the minds of the guests were gladdened by the proverbial “ feast of reason and flow of the soul.” The enjoyment of the evening was unmarred by a single defect. The songs, the toasts, the speeches, the recitations, and even the casual talk at the tables, were bright with the sparkle of unrestrained gaiety, and when the company broke up after midnight the affair was voted to be a genuine triumph of good fellowship, wit and minstrelsy, and that true temperance that avoids at once the folly of over-indulgence or that of ascetic abstinence. It was, in fact an evening to be long remembered, and proved to be so well suited to the congenial tastes and dispositions of the members that similar entertainment will be given hereafter and High Jinks may be regarded, therefore, as one of the forms of pleasure that the Germania will provide in the future for the delight of its supporters and its friends.

 The copies of the news papers were hard to read.  I used a magnifying glass and retyped the article

Club history over the years

Der Januar, by Erich Kaestner


New Years Eve Party, Sachenhausen 1943

Hostelling International, History

Travel to Germany this Summer? Jugendberberge

Re-route your Vacation to Germany, Rread and look