GUT HEIL - GOOD HEALTH!
Joaquim Hintz who actually built three such pavilions in Austin County, designed the twelve-sided Bellville Turnverein Gut Heil social hall to serve as gymnasium and meeting place for its sponsors. These German practitioners of a gymnastic system begun in 1811, Turnverein societies were prevalent across the nation at the time and members were all part of the larger national American Turnerbund (gymnastic league). The league, or federation, once held over thirty thousand members and advocated a variety of causes including abolition and socialism. Shortly before the construction of the Bellville’s Turnverein Pavilion, the national league made as its primary goal the introduction of physical training, including gymnastics and calisthenics, into the American school system. Their social halls, including Bellville’s pavilion, provided plenty of room for gymnastics as well as dances, meetings, and celebrations. In time, the Americanization of Turnverein societies included a de-emphasis on gymnastics, replacing it with a sport requiring somewhat less vigor - bowling. Today, Bellville Parks & Recreation administer the Turnverein Pavilion, renting it out for parties and events.
Watch our The German Dance Halls video to learn more about German Texan cultural heritage in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in our German Texans mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. Download the app for more videos and travel information: