Mozart Hall: An historic entertainment venue

February 20, 2016

This Herring Studio photo from the 1940s spotlights the 400 block of Broadway, to the right, with buildings constructed as early as 1871. STEVE CHOU COLLECTION

 

 

 

MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

For the Courier-Post

 

On Thursday, Sept. 13, 1877, area farmers were working their fields, planting winter wheat for the next spring’s harvest. Tom Beckwith had just completed a splendid new horse-drawn delivery wagon for F.G. Roth, prominent Palmyra Avenue grocer, featuring detailing by carriage painter Charley Armstrong.  And a sneak thief stole four chickens and a duck from Tim Flaherty’s chicken coup in South Hannibal.

 

That same evening, within the confines of the third-floor Mozart Hall at 409 Broadway, the German community of Hannibal came together for a night of live entertainment and musical folly.

 

Broadway, a busy business corridor by day, was on this night still, but for the braying of horses tethered to posts positioned along the plank sidewalks, and the echoing of music and laughter from the expansive entertainment hub overlooking the town’s Central Park.

 

Broadway was illuminated by the golden glow of flickering gas lamps cascading from the expansive windows of this entertainment venue, and nearby homes and business offices.

 

Miss Rendlen, perhaps the daughter of Mrs. Catherine A. Rendlen and the late Dr. William Rendlen, performed the role of heroine in a drama presentation, performed in her native German tongue. (In 2016, a family member, David Schanbacher, notes that there were three Rendlen daughters, Lydia, Eliza and Kate. Lydia married his great uncle, Wilhelm Schanbacher on Jan. 27, 1870. Eliza was born around 1857-58; then Kate, born 1864-65. Based upon the date of this performance, 1877, the likely performer would have been Eliza.)

 

Other performers on this night were Louis Niedemeyer, (Hannibal barber) who appeared in a leading role, a Mr. Wagner, who earned hearty applause, Louis Heiser, (Hannibal watchmaker and jeweler); Joseph Strauss (Hannibal barber), Fred Gerken (Hannibal boot and shoemaker and dealer), Andy Mirtzwa (barber for L. Niedermeyer) and George Dreyer.

 

The Hannibal Clipper, in the next day’s edition, noted: The actors were “highly complimented by all present who understood the German language.”

 

When the performance ended, the chairs in the massive hall were collected and dancing commenced, continuing, along with the music, until “2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, when the dancers went home tired, but still happy.”

 

 

Mozart Hall

Mozart Hall was the name for the still-existing third-floor space located above two store fronts facing the park, addresses 407 and 409 Broadway. The building was constructed as early as 1871, according to the National Register of Historic Places. Tongue-and-groove wooden flooring remains on the third floor as a reminder of an era when community gathering was the primary means of entertainment for Hannibalians.

 

On Aug. 6, 1875, Hannibal’s Irish-born citizens hosted a grand ball and festival at Mozart Hall, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Daniel O’Donnell, (1775-1847) an Irish political leader known as the “Liberator.” The committee members selling $1 tickets included Frank J. Quealy, M.M. Lally, M. Conlon, Mat. Quirk and Dan McKenna.

 

Early in December, 1875, Prof. Lyman was booked in Mozart Hall for a floral concert.

 

Rev. Mr. Henderson, a Kentucky transplant to Hannibal associated with the Southern Methodist Church, delivered a lecture on “Our Girls” at Mozart Hall on Friday, Feb. 4, 1881.

 

Mozart Hall was the venue for the St. Valentine’s ball of the Knights of Pythias in 1883.

 

Businesses located

at 409 Broadway

 

1873: 409 Broadway, John I. Hollister, Wooden and Willow Ware. 407 Broadway, Donley & Shannon, wholesale and retail grocers and commission merchants.

 

1877: 409 Broadway, W.D. Waller & Co., grocers, commission merchant, established in 1868; residence the same address. 407 Broadway, L. Orynski, druggist.

 

1881: W.D. Waller manager of Mozart Hall; Shephard and Thomas grocers, 409 Broadway.

407 Broadway, William McPherson, Patent Medicine.

 

1888: 409 Broadway, Shephard and Thomas grocers; Mozart Hall had been renamed Mystic Hall. 407 Broadway, DeGaris Brothers druggists. Miss Annie Foley lived at 407 ½ Broadway.

 

1892 City Directory: Mozart Hall 407 and 409 Broadway

Mystic Hall (IOOF) 411 and 413 Broadway

 

1920 and 1925: White’s Restaurant MK & William M. White props 409 Broadway

 

1935:  409 Broadway, The Park liquor store; 407 Broadway, Will DeGaris Drug Co.; 407A Broadway, Knights of Columbus Hall Hannibal Council No. 907

 

1946:  409 Broadway P.D. Tobacco Store liquors. 407 Broadway, Schultze Bros. Grocers. 407A KC Hall. 411 Broadway, Silver Bar and Grille, below Elks Lodge. (Note, according to family lore, the P.D. Tobacco store, first operated by Bill Carenen, was named for his two children: Peggy and David)

 

Current owners

The building is now owned by William and Linda Boring of Hannibal. It is believed that during the Cold War, there was a refrigerated wooden box in the basement for civil defense. George Bud Rupp owned the building from 1975-2000. The new owner bought it in 2000.

 

Walt Chandler memories

During the early 1960s, Walt Chandler opened a floral shop at 505 Broadway, located where the F&M Bank’s main branch now stands. Walt associated with the people who operated businesses nearby, and grew to love the neighborhood.

 

“There was a woman named Mable who had a restaurant next to the P&D Liquor store,” which was located at 409 Broadway in the old Mozart building,” Walt said. “She had plate dinners. Nobody has plate dinners like that now except the Third Street café. Mable served lunches such as ham and beans with toast, a vegetable and buttermilk for two or two and a half dollars. Mable was a beautiful gal – everyone’s buddy.”

 

On the second floor of the old Mozart building during the 1960s lived Bud Rupp, who owned the building for many years and operated the P&D Liquor store.

 

Walt Chandler would love to see this historic building restored. He suggests a street-level elevator at the main entrance to 407-409 Broadway, which could also be used to access the third floor of the adjoining Elks building.

 

This would allow easy access to the vast entertainment areas on the buildings’ top floors.

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