By Starrla Cray
NEW GERMANY, MN “I spent a lot of time in that hall,” lifelong New Germany resident David Effertz said of the New Germany City Hall. “It was, and still is, the center of the town for entertainment.”
The hall was built in 1939, a year after Effertz was born. The New Germany Fire Department had saved money for 37 years for the project.
Once started, the 50-foot by 138-foot building was completed in less than seven months, and the opening dance took place March 31, 1940, with music by Thorstein Skarning. According to the New Germany centennial book from 1987, thousands of people came, congregating at the pavilion east of city hall.
The structure is made of solid brick, with a full tile basement. The auditorium is 50 feet by 76 feet and the stage is 12 feet by 32 feet, the centennial book stated.
When the building was completed, it was leased to the fire department for 20 years. Two fire trucks (1951 International and 1956 Ford) stayed in the building until the mid 1970s. Now, the city offices are in that location, Effertz said.
The city hall walls and ceilings are covered with a specially formulated polyurethane polymer called Nu-Wood. This material acts as insulation and absorbs sound. According to the official Nu-Wood web site, the main advantage of Nu-Wood over traditional wood is that it won’t crack, blister, or be ruined by insects.
In front of the city hall building, a large bell is used for decoration. When the bell was purchased in 1906, the fire department would ring it when there was a fire emergency. In 1925, an electric siren was installed, so the bell was no longer used.
Throughout the years, the hall was the site of many card parties, weddings, dances, and dinners, 89-year-old New Germany resident Vernon Guetzkow said.
In 1940, a tournament for the German card game Schafskopf was held at the hall, the centennial book noted.
Effertz said he has fond memories of the city hall pavilion, which was built in the early 1900s.
“I used to go roller skating in there when I was little,” he recalled.
In 1953, the pavilion was sold to Charles Dahlke of Chaska, who remodeled it into a 126,000 egg capacity hatchery. In 1967, it was torn down and replaced by the home of Roland Zellmann and his wife.
On the second floor of the city hall building, there are several rooms, including a council room, club room, and large offices.
The city hall underwent renovations in 1987, after its centennial celebration, Effertz said. Air conditioning, elevators, and upstairs bathrooms were among the additions.