1895 - 1969
Building Corner Stone Laid in
the Summer of 1895 with
building completion in 1897.
Destroyed by fire in July 1969.
The Czech community in Milwaukee is one of the oldest Czech settlements in the United States.
Vojta Naprstek, an outstanding Czech patriot came to Milwaukee in 1848 (the year Wisconsin became a state), and found a considerable number of Czechs already living here.
Early records show that an organization, "Slovanska Lipa" was founded in 1854.
Slovanksa Lipa rented a hall in what is now the heart of Milwaukee and many amateur plays were presented for the Czech community. The hall became a meeting place for our Czech and Slovak brethren and it was there that Sokol Milwaukee was founded on June 14th, 1868.
Enthusiasm ran high and within three months it was decided to build a hall directly across the street from the present auditorium. The dedication and formal opening of the hall was celebrated on March 29th, 1869 with the presentation of the first gymnastic exhibition.
A Czech school was started, a singing society organized, gymnastics classes held and plays and operettas were presented regularly.
As a result of the growth of the Czech community it was decided to build a larger hall at 12th and Reservoir. The Bohemian Hall, completed in 1895, contained a large gymnasium, lodge hall, a huge auditorium with a well equipped stage, a dining room, bar and manager's apartment. The accoustical qualities of the auditorium were excellent and as a result it was in constant demand by other nationality groups as well as by the Czech lodges, fraternal and social organizations that met there to present plays and other programs.
Due to deteriorating conditions of the hall and the neighborhood, the Sokols vacated the hall in September 1967 and used the facilities of the International Institute and various other sites since that time. Also in 1969, fire virtually destroyed the Bohemian hall resulting in the building being demolished. In 1994, merged with Sokolice. Since 2000 to 2017, general membership meetings and gymnastic classes were held at the Norway House, 7507 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since 2018, general membership meetings are held at the West Allis Public Library and gymnastic classes are held at Blessed Sacrament.