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Arion Singing Society

411 Danbury Road, New Milford, CT 06776
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The Arion Singing Society

Historical Timeline

1911-1919

March 1, 1911  A group of German music lovers met at the Concordia Society in Danbury and formed a male chorus.  They elected officers and chose Adam Singer as the first President (perhaps because his name was so appropriate?).  The original name chosen was Maenner-Gesangverein Arion, but when it was registered with the state in 1915, the name, The Danbury Arion Singing Society, Inc., was used.

March 24, 1911  The first singing rehearsal took place in the Concordia Hall with Henry Koennemann directing.  The cost to become a member was 50 cents, with monthly dues set at 25 cents.  Membership increased rapidly, with 10 new members joining at the March 7 meeting, 12 more at the March 24 meeting, 6 more in April, 4 more in May, 5 more in June, etc.  Henry Koennemann directed the chorus for only five months, leaving to return to Germany.  So the Club went through a series of new directors over the years. 

September, 1911 The Arion moved to their own home in Hall V on Main Street(with a rent of $12.00 per month) and in December bought their first piano for $62, plus moving costs of $5.  As their numbers increased and they needed more space, they moved to 8 Ives Street. 

October 6, 1911 The Choral Society Statutes were accepted at the meeting and included as its goal “to elevate and spread German song and German language.”  It was decided that active members who were absent three consecutive practices without an excuse would be removed from the membership list.  (In March, 1915, it was lowered to two absences.)  In addition, it was stated in the Statutes that a member who did not pay his dues for three months or “has offended by his behavior” can be dropped from membership.  At a later meeting that month, there was a debate about limiting the amount of times a member could speak at a meeting to three minutes.  It was decided that card games for money would be strictly prohibited.

November, 1911  Five members were selected to be representatives to the German Central Association of Danbury.  (The Arion resigned from membership in the German Central Association in December of 1917.) 

January, 1912  A motion at a meeting was made to exclude from club membership anyone who could not speak German.

September, 1912  The Arion delegates to the German Central Club of Danbury reported at the meeting that on October 27 a lecture about “Germanness” in America would be held.  Members were asked to participate.

November, 1912 A motion was made at the monthly meeting to allow the Arion Ladies’ Club to be founded and to use the hall anytime.  (Although the minutes reflect that already in October the Arion Ladies’ Club sent the men an invitation to a festivity, which was accepted.)

April 14, 1913  Flag Dedication Ceremony of the Men’s Choral Society Arion

“With great participation of local, as well as out-of-town clubs, the Choral Society Arion held its flag dedication on April 14 in Seiffert’s Armory.  Rarely has a ceremony been held as dignified and enthusiastic asthe dedication of the Arion flag.  The club now owns two flags:  one from the ladies’ section donated ‘house flag’ with the German colors and one American flag, also a gift from the ladies, who deserve much thanks that the club thrives.  Among the guests were Mayor Anthony Sunderland and several other city officials, as well as representatives of all German clubs.  Among the clubs and lodges who donated a ribbon for the flag were:

                        Elisabeth Lodge of the Hermannsoehne, Danbury

                        Hertha Lodge D.O. Harugari, Danbury

                        K.U.Verein Concordia, Danbury

                        Lodge of the Hermannsoehne, Danbury

                        Danbury Lodge 593 D.O. Harugari, Danbury

                        Deutscher Central Verband, Danbury

                        Schwaeb. Maenner-Chor, Bridgeport

Pres. Singer thanked the Ladies’ Club in the name of the Arion for the two flags.  The activemembers sang the flag hymn, “Star Spangled Banner,” as well as other songs.”

June 10, 1913  A motion made to charge eight cents for a bottle of beer was rejected.  Beer price stays at five cents!

The Arion earned a first prize at the Saengerfest held in Bridgeport, singing the Hermit’s Night Song.  They gave the choir director, M. Keller, a gift of $10.00.

July, 1913  It was resolved that the Arion would join the Connecticut Saengerbund and send delegates to the convention.  The Arion was admitted in September. 

March, 1914  A motion was made at the meeting to appoint a collector of dues who would be rewarded with 10% of the money he collected.

March 19, 1914  A special meeting: “This meeting was called because the State Police raided the club room last Sunday and two members were to come to the police court on Tuesday, the 26th, for a hearing.  Bail was set for $200.00 for each.  Motion that the Arion board will be authorized to settle the case as well as it can.  One member resigned as steward of the club.  Motion:  From now on elect a janitor and a steward.  Motion: that nobody should have entry to the clubroom, only members will have keys, and the door will not be opened to anybody.”

June, 1914  The Arion won first prize at the 1914 Saengerfest!

September, 1914 Resolved to spend $10 for the fund of the Central Association to help needy in Germany during the First World War.

December, 1914   The Central Committee reported to have raised $500 for the needy in Germany and Austria, and resolved to hold a bazaar on the 28th, 30th, and 1st for the same purpose.

June, 1915 The Arion hosted its first Saengerfest at Backer’s Grove, on Lake Avenue in Danbury.  Over 700 people attended and three societies competed:  the Junger Maenner Chor of Orange Valley, NJ; the Schwaebischer Maenner Chor of Bridgeport; and the Quartette Club of South Norwalk.  The Bridgeport singers won first prize, a 16 inch silver cup.  This was the first “saengerfest” in Connecticut at which one of the judges was a woman “and the contestants were much pleased with Miss Kathryn Lane’s work.”

During this period the Arion participated in a variety of events sponsored by other organizations in the area, including the Svabian Men’s Choir; The Danbury and Bethel Street Railway Company’s Water Carnival; the Harugari; the South Norwalk Quartette Club; the Central Association, Hartford; New Briton Associated Choral Society; and the Turner Liedertafel of Stamford.  (Not to mention continual invitations from the Ladies Club for such events as a Lawn Party in 1917.)  They were also invited to sing at various events such as the Danbury Chamber of Commerce and at the Labor Day celebration by the Young Men’s Choir in Orange, and they held their own concert at the Tailor Opera House (Oct., 1916) and staged a “merry operetta” and a minstrel show in 1918.  

March, 1916  The Arion donated $25 to the Central Association for the needy in Germany during the war.

March, 1918  An invitation from the Danbury War Association to participate in the stamp distribution was accepted. 

April, 1918  Resolved to become member of the Red Cross.  Also resolved to purchase a Liberty Loan Bond.  Motion to buy a service flag.  Resolved to buy War savings stamps and ask our members to purchase them.

 

May, 1918  Resolved to show moving pictures, the proceeds to go to the Red Cross.

July, 1918  Resolved to purchase additional draft savings stamps to $10 and to exchange the thrift stamps still on hand for war savings stamps. 

October, 1918  Resolved to purchase a Liberty Bond.

 

January 1, 1919  The club’s assets amount to $1,062.95.

1920 – 1929

 

January, 1921  At the request of the Northeast Choral Association to help the needy in Germany and Austria, the Arion Society sent $25. 

 

February, 1923  The Club purchased their first telephone.  Every new candidate had to pay an extra $1.00 for four months to cover the cost. 

1925/26  There were 406 members.

1928  The Arion bought a building on the corner of Maple and Crosby Street from Heim Machine Company for $8,000.  But the property needed improvements, estimated at $15,000 - $20,000.  When completed, the Club contained an office/meeting room, a barroom with shuffleboard, darts, and card tables for the ladies, and a large dance hall with a stage for concerts.  The bar, with its paid bartender, was open to members and the public every day from about 11:00 am to 12:00 or 1:00 am.   For additional income, parts of the building were rented out.  The building committee was responsible for renting the stores on Maple Avenue.  In 1929, a Mr. Houston rented the downstairs floor for seven years, and The Ball & Roller Bearing Company was an excellent tenant who rented space from 1929 to about 1974.

 
1929 A new piano was bought for the Club, costing $425.
 One of the members of the Arion was arrested for bootlegging during Prohibition.

 

1930-19391933  One of the meetings became so unruly that they named a Versammlungspolizist!

1934  The Federated Clubs of Connected was founded, with delegates from 18 clubs and seven different nationalities.  The Arion joined the affiliation and by 1938, 110 clubs were members.

June 1935Saengerfest, the 25thStaats-Saengerfest, was a two-day event held in Waterbury.  The prize songs were “The Splendor Falls,” by Mark Andrews, and “The Sandman,” by P. Proteroe.  The mass chorus sang “Lorelei,” by von Silcher, on Saturday evening at the State Armory and included 800 singers, a 60 piece orchestra, and a 20 member band.  The next day, there was a picnic at Lakewood Park where “there will be general jollification and prizes will be awarded.”

December, 1935  The liquor license permitted only members and invited guests to be served alcohol.  Since it was bothersome for non-members to sign the guestbook, 69 men became (social) members all at once.  This issue was discussed again in 1940:  the women either had to become members or sign the guest book at each function.  Apparently, they continued to sign, because the women were not permitted to become members until the 1970’s.

 

March, 1937  A woman’s auxiliary group, the Arion Edelweiss, was established to help with the social functions of the group.

May, 1937  The Arion Soccer Club was with $100.00 in start up money for uniforms and equipment.

October, 1939  The Society voted to buy an American Flag and, throughout the war, bought more than a fourteen hundred dollars worth of war bonds.

 

1940-1949

 

March 14, 1941  A letter in the Club files from the Danbury Defense Committee explained how to get ready for air attacks and to ask the Arion to send a representative to an upcoming meeting on the subject.  The concern was that Danbury was an industrial center and therefore a potential target during the Second World War.

June 1941Saengerfest in Bridgeport was almost cancelled due to anti-German sentiments in the US during the war.  But it was decided to hold the Saengerfest anyway with the expectation that in the future the group would be glad it continued to promote German culture.

 

October, 1942  Monthly dances were begun; admission was 75 cents, including the meal.

After the Second World War, the Club was involved in various relief efforts for the people of Germany, including raising money through picnics, dances, and showing films.

 

1946Membership dues were raised to $3.00 and lifetime membership was established.

1948  The women’s chorus was established under the leadership of Ernst Gierginsky.  Coincidentally, at their first rehearsal on April 9, they were represented by the same number of singers as the original members of the men’s chorus.

 

1950-1959

 

May, 1950  At the meeting, it was suggested that the Club would send care packages to its members who were soldiers – not to exceed $2.50 each.

January, 1954  An investigation was begun to determine why the bar was running at a loss!

 

1955  It was decided in that the President and Recording Secretary should be members

June, 1955  The Arion hosted the Saengerfest, in which 25 Societies participated!

1956  The Almenrausch Schuplattlers were formed and continued dancing at area events until about 1970/71.

1960-1969

1960  A children’s chorus was formed. At its height, there were about 40 children singing.

1961 The Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a special concert and dinner dance.  Membership at the time was well over 300, about 30 of whom sang with the chorus.

 

1970- 1979

 

1973  The children of the Arion members were growing up not knowing how to speak German, so members of the Arion established the German Language School.  The Edelweiss Schuhplattlers were also formed a few years after the Almenrausch Schuplatters disbanded.  They continued dancing until around 1986.

September 4, 1975  The Arion sold the Crosby Street property to Omaha Beef.

1976  With the patriotic fervor of the American Bicentennial, the Arion decided it would keep the minutes of the meetings in English rather than German.

 

1977  Women were allowed to become members!

 

1980 – 1989

1980 Members of the Arion Society were instrumental in the establishment of the German Cultural Society of Danbury. 

April 25, 1982  The Arion joined in the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Connecticut Saengerbund.

1985  The Arion purchased its current clubhouse in New Milford.

1986  As part of its 75th Anniversary, the Arion hosted the Saengerfest at Hatters Park in Danbury.

 

1990 – 1999

March 12, 1991  The Arion  received their certificate of occupancy to enlarge its clubhouse to include a large hall for rehearsals, dances, and concerts. 

1992 The first annual Arion Chriskindl Markt was held.  All items are handmade by the skilled elves of the Arion Singing Society. 

1998  The Arion hosted the Saengerfest at its clubhouse in New Milford.

September, 1998  The first Oktoberfest was held over Labor Day Weekend. It was such a success; attendance has increased every year since.

 

2000 – 2011

 

2000  The Arion's current choral director, Ulrich Hartung, joined the Arion.

2007  The Arion hosted the Saengerfest at its clubhouse in New Milford.  In honor of the occasion, the Mayor of New Milford proclaimed June 17, 2007, to be Arion Singing Society Day!

March, 2011 The Arion marked its 100th Anniversary with a Founder’s Day party in March and a special concert and dinner dance in May.  At this point, the Club members number 147, of which 38 are singers.