“The Highland Gymnastic Society, in 1948, voted to donate Turner Hall to the city of Highland and urged the city to take steps within 30 days to raze the building.”
Here is what happened, according to the Highland Journal of Jan. 8, 1948: “At a called meeting of the members of the Highland Gymnastic Society, held Jan. 6, 1948, it was voted unanimously to donate Turner Hall and the real estate to the city of Highland for the use of the general public.
“Twenty-one members were present as Fred Paul, president of the society, called the meeting to order to read the minutes of the previous meeting and a meeting of the executive committee. There was a report of the state fire marshal’s last visit and inspection. The fire marshal ordered the society to repair or raze the building. By repairing, he meant rebuilding the entire south wall, repairing the roof, realigning all walls, replacing the west fire escape and constructing a new fire escape on the east side, replacing the present boiler and checking the entire heating system.
“The members had considered the report, and in view of the society’s financial condition and poor prospects of improvement, thought it would be unwise to repair the property. Charles Haldi Sr., speaking as a member and also the mayor, suggested that the property be offered to the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars … This suggestion was turned down, and a motion was made to donate the property directly to the city. The motion carried … It was decided that after the city took action on the gift, the society would have a final meeting to dissolve the charter … Personal property in the building, chairs, tables, equipment, etc., would be disposed by the board, Fred Paul, Milton Dresch and Carl Jost. It was thought the money raised would meet the expenses of the dissolution. There were no other debts, although two other members had advanced insurance premiums and corporate fees during the prior two years …
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“It was suggested that if any funds were left, they should be turned over to the city, in escrow, for the purchase of a display case, or memorial plaque, to keep alive the society’s activities when a new building is erected on the site.”
We are keeping the “Turner Hall” and the activities alive at the new Highland Home Museum. We already have a “Turner” bat, a number of photos. Do you have some other items stashed away that you could donate to the new museum? Please call me at 618-303-0082 for approval and a time to deliver.
Highland was without a public gymnasium until early January 1954, when the new Weinheimer Memorial Building was built upon the site of the old Turner Hall, originally called, Turnhalle.
“The Weinheimer building was built at a cost of $250,000. Of this amount, Fredrick Wm. Weinheimer, a former Highland resident, left $150,000 to the city, when he died in 1948, just after the Turner Hall had been torn down. Mr. Weinheimer also left $40,000 to the city for maintenance of the building, which was erected as a memorial to his parents. The city raised $50,000 through taxation, an amount required by Weinheimer’s will. The city also furnished the site, (Really, the Highland Gymnastic Society furnished the site, which was the location of the old Turner Hall.) The city also purchased the fixtures and equipment used in the new building, which was erected as a memorial to Weinheimer’s parents.
“Dick Hebrank was the manager of the Weinheimer building and reported 1,079 persons registered during the four-day open house in early January 1954. He was rearranging schedules to meet the registrants needs, which included skating, square dancing, after-school activities, basketball, volleyball, trampoline, ping-pong, badminton, ladies gym, and shuffleboard.” (These quotes from the Highland News Leader of Wednesday Jan. 20, 1954.)