|When many of the
German immigrants discovered Sunbury in the early 1900's they decided
Sunbury was the place they wished to settle permanently; with them
they brought their traditions and customs, one of which was singing.
As the immigrants continued to arrive in Sunbury they pressured the
ones already living there to organize a German Club. They felt that
with such a club in existence they could continue to study German
culture, read German literature and sing German songs.
Their persistence succeeded and in
December 1904, they held their first meeting with Mr. August Korten as
chairman. They elected their most enthusiastic singer, Adollph
Selter, as President, and Karl Schudbert as Secretary. A
committee was appointed by Selter: the committee consisted of August
Korten, Wilhelm Butz, Rudolph von Holtz, Gustav Schmalt and Julius
Steegman. These men formed the "Concordia Club" and drew up the
rules and regulations for the club set the time for the next meeting.
The first by-laws of the club were written in German. Some of
the club's by-laws are as follows:
1. All officers of the club must able to speak and write German
2. Active member were required to meet each week and rehearse in
3. 80% of members must be German; the other 20% could be of
other ethnic group but could not be in the choir if they could not
4. No one was allowed to drink beverages or play cards until
after choral rehearsals were finished each wee.
5. Guests were allowed to be brought to the club by a member if
they lived outside of a five-mile radius of the club.
The meeting was set for December
30, 1904, and the club, consisting of 28 men, approved all the rules
and regulations that had been recorded by the committee. They
also elected new officers: August Korten was made president
because Selter's English was extremely faulty, but despite his
inability to speak acceptable English, Selter was elected Vice
President, Steegman was made Secretary, Schubert, assistant secretary,
and three other men, Ferdinand Leinweber, Julius Moeshlin and
Engelbert Fledges, as trustees.
No suitable building would be
found to hold their meetings so they made arrangements to use the
social rooms of the Abner Stine Hotel which was located on the corner
of Chestnut and Third Streets. This was the place where the club
was originally organized. In April 1905, the club rented a room
on the third floor of the Hass Building which Beck Electric once
occupied on Market Street. One problem encountered by the club
was the acquisition of a conductor for their signing group, but by
sheer stroke of good fortune they discovered Professor I. W.
Rothenberg, who spoke both English and German fluently wand who also
understood German music. Under the leadership of Rothenberg the
Sunbury Concordia Maenner Chore won prizes in singing through the
state, in Scranton, Altoona, Williamsport, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading
and Allentown, and once in Atlantic City.
The club grew quite rapidly - so
rapidly that in ten years it was so large that new quarters had to be
sought. In 1915 the club's membership was moved to the third
floor of the Jonas Building on Third and Markets Streets. The
Jonas Building was one of the finest buildings in town at the time.
This was also the time the club began having unforeseen troubles.
War has been declared in Europe and before the United States had
entered the war many radicals in Sunbury considered the club as a
menace to the area and threatened to destroy the building with
explosives. Charles W. Clement, Sunbury's Chief Burgess,
resolved the issue by suggesting to the membership of the club that
they suspend their meetings for a time. The Germans followed
Clement's advice and the problem gradually disappeared.
In April 1922, the club was
reorganized and chartered under the name of the Sunbury Social Club.
The club rented a room on the third floor of the Moore Building, but
the club continued to grow and in five years the membership was
compelled to search for larger quarters. They acquired new rooms
in the Dewart Building on Third Street in 1927, but expansion appeared
to be their nemesis and the club decided to build its own home.
A large lot was purchased on the
island in 1933 from A Wellington and Jennie Pontius for the sum of
$1.00 and a modern structure was erected there in the same year.
This new and final home was dedicated on April 7, 1933. This
structure housed a restaurant, bar, and ballroom where social
functions were held.
The choir stayed active up until
approximately 1956 when the choir was disbanded, either due to lack of
participation or either the lack of German language becoming less
prevalent. Also in 1956 the Ladies Auxiliary was started and is
still going strong today. Over the years the Ladies Auxiliary
has participated in many projected helping the club and other civic
organizations in the community.
Even though the Social Club was
flooded in 1936, 1972, and in 1996 it has always bounced back and
improved its activities and membership.
Membership was expanded to include all nationalities with equal rights
to all members.
1960's the club began to utilize the river frontage frontage for
boating and the grove for other activities such as clambakes and
picnics. In the 1980's and 90's the club has grown and prospered
and in 1997 the club opened it's membership to include women as full
fledged members. One of the latest improvements to the club has
been the addition of the pavilion. Another project the club is
proud of is the upgrading of our playground equipment. At the
present day the club has a membership of 2100 members and is still