Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Birmingham Turnverein (Lithuanian Hall)

This building is an epitome of the history of the South Side. The first wave of immigrants after the original English and Scotch-Irish settlers was the Germans. There was a Turnhalle, a German athletic club, on this site by 1872, and probably well before; it was across the street from a German Evangelical church. That original Birmingham Turnverein was a frame building, but this splendid brick structure was put up some time a little before 1910. (If you enlarge the picture, you can see a pair of “BTV” monograms on the façade near the entrance.) Then came the influx of East Europeans, and many of the Germans moved out. This became a Lithuanian Hall; the German church across the street was demolished and replaced with a Ruthenian Catholic church. In the twenty-first century, we have all become antisocial, and clubs and churches have died; the building has been turned into apartments, as many similar buildings have been.

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