The Apollo Maennerchor Society was founded in 1870 by citizens of German descent of the City of Sharon for the purpose of perpetuating and cultivating the German language and the art of singing and to further German customs. The society has been recognized as a branch organization and entered into the records of the “Nord-Amerikanischer Saengerbund” (North American Singers Association).
The original meeting place was a hall on State Street in Sharon. The society grew in numbers for several decades and was simply known as the Club being the only organization of this type in the Shenango Valley. The membership decided in 1908 to build a permanent club building. Our present building at 391 South Dock Street, Sharon was dedicated on November 23, 1910. Coverage of this event included a feature story in the Pittsburgh Gazette Times. This article is a reminder of the importance ethic social clubs played in the Shenango Valley’s growth and prosperity.
The building was designed by architect E. E. Clepper, at the time considered the architect of the city of Sharon by “The Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder” Magazine dated January 1912. The article describes the busy city of Sharon enjoying the benefit of American’s industrial wealth and also advancing equally architecturally with the acknowledged talents of Mr. Clepper. Our building is one of the few public buildings designed by Mr. Clepper still remaining in the city of Sharon.
During its history, the Apollo Maennerchor Singers have performed innumerable concerts both locally, across America and in Germany. They have showcased the talent, energy and dedication to preserving familiar customs while adapting to the opportunity and progress present in the Shenango Valley. Below is the earliest picture found from 1914 of the Maennerchor singers. Maennerchor translates to Men’s choir in English.
In later years the men’s and women’s choirs were combined due to fewer members in each choir. In June, the singers traveled to Milwaukee to perform in the 61st National Sangerfest. They joined 1,150 other singers representing German singing societies from across the United States for concerts and fellowship.
Over the past 102 years many improvements have been made to the club building. Hundreds of singer concerts were held, German holidays celebrated, and family dinners featuring German food were enjoyed. The members of the club have always adapted to changing times while remembering their rich history and respect for traditions. This combination has made the Apollo Maennerchor the only German culture club remaining in the Shenango Valley.
Goals and Vision
As the Apollo Maennerchor enters its third century, our goal is to remember this rich history; preserve tradition; save a historical building in Sharon; educate our community on cultural heritage and become an active community participant. In so doing, we hope to share with the Shenango Valley the German tradition of Gemutlichkeit, the connotation of belonging and social acceptance and the warm, comfortable feeling one receives from pleasant surroundings and atmosphere.
To compliment the social and cultural aspects represented by the Apollo Maennerchor we are rejuvenating a historical building in downtown Sharon. The second floor Festhalle has been refurbished to reflect its original grandeur and maintains much of its 1910 design and décor. We will continue to use the Festhalle for German cultural events including singer concerts, holiday celebrations, dinners and family events. We also envision the hall as a venue available to the community. The picture below shows the newly refurbished smoke-free upstairs Festhalle.