New opportunities on the horizon for the Teutonia Club
After more than 60 years of meeting at 55 Edinborough St. in Windsor, the Verein Teutonia Club is closing its doors for good and members are anxiously waiting to move to a new hall across town.
As of June 1, the new owners of the well-known “Home of Oktoberfest” will begin renovations on the 10-acre property to transform it into a new medical center for the residents of central Windsor. It is the first time the building will undergo major renovations in nearly 30 years and according to club president Christine Erdmann it will look completely different when it’s finished.
“I’m told it’s going to have a complete face-lift outside and inside so it will be a little sad but at the same time it will be their home,” said Erdmann.
For some elder members of the club, this will be a second move since the Teutonia Club was built in the mid 1930s.
In the years between and following the World Wars, Erdmann says many European families fled to Canada hoping to start new lives but faced any unexpected obstacles when they arrived including language barriers, prejudice and scrutiny. It was not long before they began gathering in homes and churches to help each other through the difficult assimilation process.
She says at its peak the club was a second home to close to 3,000 members.
“This building was built mostly by our members as more of them came over [from Europe], and therefore it has a lot of meaning to us and still we wish the new owner well in all his endeavors.”
Erdmann says it was a nearly unanimous decision from the board and members to merge with the Fogolar Furlan Club across town as they have maintained great relations over the years. However, not all of the club’s groups are able to be accommodated by the new hall.
“As of right now we haven’t found [a home] yet and our club’s future is uncertain,” said Victor Lucier of the Windsor Ping Pong Association. “We are sad because they’ve been good to us over the years and we’ve had a good run here and also we have a lot of people that have become used to playing each week.”
While Erdmann believes the club’s membership numbers and monthly pretzel and cabbage roll sales will not be affected by the move, others are more skeptical.
“I really enjoy working here and now knowing they’re closing the doors is really sad, not only for me and the other employees but also the customers that have been coming here so long,” said Teutonia bartender and member Karla Beaudoin.
“We’re like a real family here and I know if they move it won’t be the same.”
Erdmann says the Fogolar has been very accommodating so far offering to give Teutonia members chances to go check out their new home and waiving their rental fees through the summer. She also says the manager of the Fogolar is considering flying the German flag out front and has told her there will be space in their hall to display some Teutonia photos, plaques and records permanently.
“We’re really not a dying club, we are going to continue on just under the umbrella of the Fogolar Club and they’ve opened their arms to us and been very accommodating in everything we’ve asked for and need,” said Erdmann.
While some of the Teutonia’s treasures and books have been set aside or donated to the Windsor Public Library’s downtown campus, many are still to be auctioned off during the club’s farewell banquet May 1, starting at noon and open to all. Tickets will be available for purchase at their long time home through April.