From the Saenger Fest Halle, to The Coliseum, to the The Col Ballroom
From the Saenger Fest Halle . . .
Many of the Germans who settled in Iowa had a wealth of musical talent. Some played instruments, some were composers, but
most were singers. The Westside of Davenport had numerous German Halls where people gathered over music, theater, and pints
of beer. Music was so much a part of the German American life that Davenport was chosen to host the Third Annual Saengerfest,
or “singer’s festival.” In that year, 1858, several thousand men journeyed up and down the Mississippi river to join the fest.
In 1896, the Davenport United Singers, along with business leaders, wanted to host the Eighteenth National Saengerfest. Part of the
plan was to build a spectacular arena capable of seating 5,000 people. A holding company constructed the Saengerfest Halle
and rented it to the festival committee for $4,500. An estimated 100,000 people came, this time they traveled by railroad. All the
hotels, halls, and guest houses were filled to capacity. It was said that most homes in Davenport had up to six out of town guests.
A band, a reception committee, and many enthusiastic residents met the trains that brought the choirs to town. The fest lasted
After the fest, the Saenger Fest Halle was turned into a warehouse. In 1906, the new owners added a second floor which was
dedicated as The Coliseum
, “Davenport’s Dancing Dreamland.” On October 21, 1913 fire destroyed the wood building. A new
Coliseum was constructed across the street in 1914, this time made of steel and brick.
to the Col Ballroom . . .
The Col Ballroom
was built in November of 1914 by the late Leo Kerker. It is one of Iowa’s oldest operating ballrooms. From Frank
Sinatra and Louis Armstrong to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Marylyn Manson, The Col has hosted them all over the years. The Col Ballroom
was inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association hall of fame in 1999, and is listed as a historical landmark. During most
of its early years, The Col was owned by Don Wachel, one of the most highly regarded professionals in the national ballroom industry.
In the early 1990’s, the ballroom underwent a major renovation. It included exterior brick cleaning and extensive interior renovations
to the ornate balcony. The Quad Cities Mexican American Organization took control from Wachel in 1995, as part of its goals to
support its community education and scholarship programs. The all volunteer organization can be proud of its ownership and
investment in the Davenport landmark.