Milwaukee Turners owns Turner Hall, which was constructed in 1882 and designed by architect and German immigrant Henry H. Koch. Turner Hall is a unique four-story, multi-use facility constructed of Milwaukee's characteristic cream city brick. Complete with gymnasium, restaurant/beer hall, meeting rooms, and a grand two-story ballroom (operated by the Pabst Theatre Foundation), the Hall continues to house functions that promote the development of both a sound mind and a sound body.
Turner Hall holds the three following honorary architectural and historical designations: a National Landmark, a listing on the National Registry of Historic Places, and a local Historical Landmark.
The Milwaukee Turners received their charter from the Wisconsin State Legislature in 1855. Milwaukee was once know as "German Athens of America" for its vital German artistic, political and civic culture, and the Turners were a central part of this community. Turners members volunteered in large numbers for the Union Army and served as President Lincoln's personal bodyguards as he toured the nation. Turners were influential in developing the "ethnic vote" as a force for liberal Republican politics. They were also early advocates for women's suffrage and equal rights, and were one of the first German-American organizations to publicly denounce the atrocities of National Socialism and Hitler's regime in Germany.
Central to the Milwaukee Turners was a deep concern for social reform and a relentless pursuit of honest and open democratic government. In 1903 Turner Hall hosted a 3,000-plus person meeting that spurred the 'clean government' movement to eliminate graft, corruption and cronyism in local government that then swept the nation in the early twentieth century. By the turn of the century, many of the Milwaukee membership were no longer liberal Republicans, but had become Social Democrats.