On my way up and down J Street (so you know I wasn’t in downtown D.C.) to visit Mom I passed this charming brick and terra cotta edifice, which turns out to be the Sacramento Turn Verein, now a German language and culture society.
Riding the wave of German immigration in the mid 19th century, the American Turnerbund movement established athletic clubs in Cincinnati; Philadelphia; Columbus, Ohio; and elsewhere. It had its roots in a nationalistic yet democratic student movement in the early 1800’s, founded by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn.
Jahn’s nationalistic spirit contributed to his role as a promoter of “patriotic gymnastics,” recognized as a strong force in Prussia’s liberation. The gymnastic exercises that he introduced were intended to infuse his students with a patriotic love of freedom that would make them capable of bearing arms for their country, in the name of war of liberation.
American Turners opposed slavery and served in the Union Army in the U.S. Civil War.