Bullets, beer, and Bavarians at Schuetzen Park

Bullets, beer, and Bavarians at Schuetzen Park


UPDATE (July 12, 2017): Thanks to reader George Lane, we have a picture of the “flying horses” (aka a merry go round) built in 1873 at Schuetzen Park.

Whirligig in Shützen Park, Philadelphia Sep. 1873

According to George, the pic is of the newly built merry go round (also called ‘flying horses’) in Sept. 1873. While the men were shooting, the women and children enjoyed the other features of the park.

To see the original, check out George’s Flickr. Thank you very much George for the beautiful pic!


Original article (May 2014)

Unless you’re from Georgia, guns and beer don’t mix, right? 

It seems crazy now, but there was a time when it was perfectly acceptable in Philadelphia to spend a day shooting and drinking – and Schuetzen Park in East Falls was a popular place to do it.

Schuetzen Park 1875. The park was located on the present-day site of the Queen Lane Reservoir.

Schuetzen Park 1875. The park was located on the present-day site of the Queen Lane Reservoir.

The 19.5 acre park, located on Indian Queen Lane not far from Hohenadel House, was purchased in 1870 by a German-American rifle club called the Philadelphia “Schuetzen Verein” (directly translated from German as “Shooting Club”).

Club members practiced both short and long-range shooting at various wooden targets and, with the advent of the clay targets in the late nineteenth century, trap shooting. They often participated in matches that pitted individual shooters, as well as communities and clubs, against each other. This 1869 photo below depicts hundreds of members of Philadelphia’s German-American shooting club — their faces copied from photographs — on their shooting grounds off Indian Queen Lane in East Falls.

The Philadelphia Schuetzen Verein 1869. Source: Philadelphia Library Company

The Philadelphia Schuetzen Verein 1869. At the center of the group, a man wears a sash and holds the banner of the club. Also shows the banquet hall and members taking target practice in the background. Source: Philadelphia Library Company

The club also held Schutzenfests, shooting festivals whose origins dated back to the Middle Ages in Germanic parts of Europe. Winners received trophies, prizes, and local and regional recognition from their victories. The festivals were also occasions to express German pride as well as patriotic sentiments about the United States and the role of Germans in building the nation.

These expressions seemed necessary, given that many Americans in the late 19th century believed that Germans were “foreigners” and not “real Americans.” At a Schuetzen Park festival in 1882, a speaker claimed that Daniel Pastorius, the founder of Germantown, arrived shortly before William Penn, proving that the “German stock took root at the same time as the English” in the founding of Pennsylvania.

Daily life at Schuetzen Park was quite colorful, as described in the Philadelphia Times (August 6, 1893):

“On every Thursday morning during the summer the men of the club repaired with their rifles and banged away at the targets with most encouraging results. In the afternoons the children, wives, and sweethearts of the marksmen went out from the city with baskets fairly groaning under their wealth of good things and the remainder of the day and evening was spent in dancing and merry-making.”

Some of the Park’s amenities included a “dancing hall, swings, flying horses, stables, a music room” and, of course, a German specialty whose popularity was then sweeping the nation — lager beer.

The Park’s greatest moments were on May 15 and 16, 1871, when the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War sparked a massive celebration at Schuetzen Park. Reports at the time mention a “nine-mile long” procession of revelers in Philadelphia, many of whom found their way to the new park.

Attendance at Schuetzen began to wane in the 1880s with the passage of the Brooks High-License Act, which regulated the sale of alcohol in Pennsylvania and increased the prices of liquor licenses. The result, according to The Philadelphia Times, “did away with the greatest source of revenue for the picnics held at Schuetzen Park.” The Park was eventually condemned in 1893 to make room for the new reservoir and the club began a search for a new park. Locations such as Pastorius Park were considered, but were discarded because Chestnut Hill was considered too built up for the discharge of firearms in its vicinity.



EastFallsLocal 10-14 BC IQL baptist church hohenadel nice frame px

Major changes since we last checked in on Hohenadel. Felicite and Sean have taken over the renovating duties since the departure of Mike Labetti from the project earlier this year.  Seems the bank’s schedule for completing the project and Mike’s didn’t quite jibe.  

With the days getting shorter and cooler, Sean’s first focus has been the windows, all 56 of them (!). Luckily the sturdy old world design of these beauties makes them (relatively) easy to rebuild. The problem is finding the time (we mentioned there’s 56, right?) read more…

Spring has sprung at Hohenadel

5-3 Hohenadel with stucco
Slow-henadel no more! With spring kicking into high gear, things are buzzing inside and outside Hohenadel’s walls. By the way, you’ll notice a fancy new coat of stucco on those exterior walls, compliments of Mike Labetti’s crew, who are taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather to make the old lady really shine. (After the stucco gets a hand-rubbed finish, it’ll be painted white with black trim. Very period-appropriate for an Italianate house from the 19th century, according to Mike.)
read more…

When Hohenadel Lost (some of) His Family Jewels…

When Hohenadel Lost (some of) His Family Jewels…

Thank you, John C. Hohenadel of Lancaster, PA — a distant relative of our own “brewer branch” here in East Falls. He’s been collecting Hohenadel breweriana for over 30 years, and also has uncovered lots of interesting clippings he’s been so very kind to share with us.

Here’s one from a break & enter at the mansion on Indian Queen Lane  (from the Evening Public Ledger, January 26, 1918):

read more…

Update: Party Goes Hard Core

Update: Party Goes Hard Core

This just in — Hohenadel’s lager and Harry Prime won’t be the only historical effervescence at the East Falls House Party on October 18th. There will be a few special gallons of America’s oldest beverage on tap — hard cider. Joe Getz, co-founder of Pennsylvania’s own Kurant Cider, has kindly donated a batch of his company’s unique brand of handmade, local cider to the cause.   read more…

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1 Comment

  1. Chris Salisbury

    I, too, am a Hohenadel. My grandfather was John F. Hohenadel; his father (my great-grandfather– Theodore Hohenadel) owned the Quaker City Furniture House (I have a photo). His father was John Hohenadel (1823-1894) (photo indicates was taken at Neuman Photography, 228 N Ninth St, Philadelphia). His brother, John, owned the City Park Hotel at 29th and Penn Ave opposite the Fairmont park (I have a postcard). Was he the brewer? The brewery connection in my accumulation of family items is fuzzy. I own all the Hohenadel breweriana which is fun, and my mother always referred to the brewer as her uncle or cousin. I live in the Chicago area and the Hohenadels came from Phil and settled in the German enclave in the city. Anything or anyone you can connect me to to help fill in the gaps would be much appreciated.


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