Fire destroys historic Turner Hall


By Ken Esten Cooke

Turner Hall, described by locals as “the best dance floor in Gillespie County,” burned Sunday night and into Monday morning in a loss to one of the city’s historic places.

Firemen were toned out at about 10:45 p.m. and the building was already fully engulfed. Fredericksburg, Willow City fire crews were on hand to tame the blaze, which took until about 5 a.m. Crews were still putting out hot spots Monday morning. (Stonewall and Doss VFD provided backup.)

By mid-morning, no new information had been released about the cause of the fire. The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the smoldering remains and it may be several days before they are ready to release any information, said Myron Fiedler, one of many crewmen who worked through the night.

Lt. Terry Weed, investigator, said there has been no connection made between other incidents on Sunday night and the fire. He said the state fire marshal’s office is looking for video surveillance evidence, but there is nothing as yet to suggest criminal activity.  

Duane Durst, president of the Fredericksburg Social Turn Verein, said he gave blue prints to the state fire marshal’s office so investigators would know the building’s layout, but had no idea as to the cause as yet.

“We know nothing about how the fire began,” Durst said. Durst said the club was always raising funds for maintenance and building upkeep projects.

The hall was a place for many weddings, dances and other social events, and also contained a nine-pin bowling alley at one time.

In 1883, the club sponsored a fire brigade, which became the city’s volunteer fire department. The club was formed in 1871 but moved to its Travis Street location in 1909, promoting children’s gymnastics, celebrations and bowling.