Frohsinn Singing Society marks 150 years

The Frohsinn Singing Society of Altoona celebrated its 150th anniversary on March 2 with a grand party for all members.

The Frohsinn is the oldest fraternal club in central Pennsylvania, having been founded in 1864.

The German congregation of the Roman Catholic Faith of Altoona, as it was legally called, was organized in 1860.

Next in order was the building of a church, which began construction in the same year.

The congregation chose the east side of town in which to erect their new church and all labor was performed by members of the parish.

The church was dedicated by Bishop Michael Domenec of Pittsburgh as St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception. Father George Kichner was the pastor in 1864, when the Frohsinn Singing Society was organized.

Twelve men, all of German extraction, organized the society. The first meeting place was the schoolhouse of St. Mary’s Church.

A new building was built in 1876.

On Aug. 10, 1891, the hall was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt and reopened one year later.

The club then moved to 1127 Ninth Ave., Altoona, which was the building that housed the old East End Theater.

The building was remodeled to add a stage hall, a bar area and bowling alleys in the basement.

Membership began to grow, and a number of chorus groups formed for performances.

Fate intervened again on Friday the 13th, in February 1981, when fire destroyed the club again.

The club moved to its present home at 1108 12th Ave. in May of the same year.