Gerhard Henke 1962-1974
..... an at his retirement in 1981
Wherever German immigrants would settle, they sought each other out and found ways to stay connected to their homeland, their culture and their memories through social support groups and especially their music. Such was the case in the 1890's in the small community of Elmhurst, just 17 miles west of Chicago.
The Elmhurst Maennerchor really had its first attempt in 1894, when Hermann Krueger posted an announcement to look for singers - and the first meeting took place in June 22, 1894, with Max Wilde elected President. The board was completed with Hermann Krueger (Vice President), Luis Stromberg (Secretary), Hermann Trenn (Membership & Cashier), Philipp Bass (Bummelschatzmeister), Fred Schwass (Treasurer) and Wilhelm Bisbring (Archivist). But during the Great Train Strike of 1987, many of the members lost their jobs and were forced to move out of the area. With most singers gone, the club could not financially sustain itself and gave up.
Ten years later, while the population of Elmhurst had tripled to more than 6000 residents, twenty brave German souls came together - and in September 1907, the Elmhurst Maennerchor was started anew. In 1912, one of the highlights of the group: a brand new chorus flag was created to show off at a spectacular parade though Elmhurst. Directors during the early years were a school teacher and a pastor.
It should not last long, the first World War, once again, almost brought the chorus to its knees. But at the end of the 1920's, a young music professor emigrated from Germany to Chicago. In 1931, the charismatic and very handsome Ludwig Lohmiller took over the chorus - he should be their director (as well as for the Elmhurst Ladies Chorus which was founded in 1936) until 1981.
Rolf Frueh 1995-1996
THE ELMHURST MAENNERCHOR STAMMTISCH
In 1989, new President Klaus Schmidt started this brand new tradition, back then at the Heidelberg Restaurant in Elmhurst
- these days every 3rd Saturday of the month at 11:00 a.m. at the Schnitzelplatz in Glendale Heights
Hans Neufeld 1978-1988
As can be expected, times got tough again for the chorus during World War II, but they did not give up. Fortunately, the immigration wave in the 1950's and 1960's brought new enthusiastic members to the chorus, people who had lost everything but wanted to keep their language and their culture alive and enjoy each other's company. They joined the United German American Choruses of Chicago and the North American Singing Organization as well as the German Singers Association. And before long, under the leadership of President Hans Moser (1953-1961) the chorus was thriving.
One of the oldest photos we have are from the Elmhurst Men's Chorus in 1911, many respected business owners and local craftsmen were members of the chorus back then
OUR PRESIDENTS - 1960's til today
1907 - The upstairs public hall of the MAHLER BLDG. on 124 W. Park Ave. - original rehearsal site
1989 - 'Men in shorts' at the annual Maennerchor picnic at Joe Wagner's mink farm in Winfield. Joe Wagner (right) was the owner of York Furrier in Elmhurst and the Maennerchor picnic was a stomping ground for many local and national politicians back then, especially in election years (oh the stories we could tell).
1921 - ELMHURST MAYOR (and President of the Maennerchor) OTTO BALGEMANN
Wolfgang Bergmann 1975-1977
1907 - Member FRED SCHWASS' BEER HALL on Addison & First St. in Elmhurst- site of the first meetings
1985 - Father's Day at Hermann & Dorothy Pigors' Oak Hill Gardens, Above: the Pigors Family
Right: Franz Kundmann, Tony Uhlen and Willi Bren in charge of the brats
Below: Uhlens & Brens, center Hans Neufeld & Klaus Schmidt, on the right Kundmanns & Ulbrichs w. Baerbel Carste & Hannelore Schoenauer
1946 - Maennerchor member Joe Wagner's very own "YORK FURRIERS" on York Road
Klaus Schmidt 1989-1994
Stuart Holtz 1997-2001
Plenty of fun and a wonderful concert at the North American Song Festival in Cincinnati/Ohio
For many years now, the Maennerchor has been holding annual concerts, organized picnics, Christmas Parties, 4th of July parties and get-togethers for their monthly 'Stammtisch' at the Schnitzelplatz in Glendale Heights. They participated in all and every national and regional song festival over the years, marched in many parades and sang at Xmas church services, Oktoberfests ... you name it.
Most of all, however, it's the friendships and memories that have been formed over the years which are the lasting accomplishments of the chorus.
1982 - The Maennerchor singing at the Ladies Chorus Spring Concert at the Elks Hall in Elmhurst
1983 - Getting ready to board the bus for the NorthAmerican Saengerfest in Columbus, Ohio and singing along to Peter Carste
Right: Watching the audience watching us
Director Ludwig Lohmiller in 1931 ...
Hermann Pigors 2002-2015
1981 - The MAENNERCHOR in the upper ball room of the Elmhurst Elk's Hall on York Road & Schiller St.
Front row, center: new director John Olivo with outgoing director Ludwig Lohmiller to his right.
Also the Elmhurst Ladies Chorus, invited as guest chorus.
For many years, rehearsals and small gatherings of the Maenner- as well as the Ladies Chorus were held at the downstairs community hall, while the annual spring and fall concerts took place at the fancy upper ball room which seated close to 300 guests. When the Elks Hall was sold in the mid 1980s, the chorus moved to its new rehearsal site at the Knights of Columbus Hall on South York Road, later it relocated to the much smaller Elmhurst Elks Lodge on St. Charles, west of Route 83.
Elmhurst Männerchor History
Elmhurst Men's Chorus - Elmhurst, Illinois' oldest organization - Founded in 1907
1980s - The beautiful upper ballroom at the ELKS LODGE on York & Schiller in Elmhurst was site of many concerts of the Elmhurst Choruses, with weekly rehearsals held downstairs.
South of the Elks Hall, across the small alley, was PLASS APPLIANCES, founded by member Walter Plass
1981 - First ever 4th of July Party at the Schmidts (1981-1998)
1991 - Always lots of fun (rain or shine), above: Another Fourth of July at the Schmidts, below: 3 weeks later at Germanfest, Milwaukee
Bruce Sanfilippo 2016-