Irving Hall

September 15th, 2023

By John Marks, Curator

We have written about Linden Hall, Dove Hall, and Collin’s Music Hall, but have you heard of Irving Hall? Until August, I had not. I was preparing for a downtown walking tour, and searched for where dances were held in the early 1900s. Irving Hall on Seneca Street popped up as a location.

The earliest references in Geneva newspapers to Irving Hall were in New York City, from 1860 to 1888. It was the meeting place for one Democrat faction of city politics, like the more-famous Tammany Hall. Irving Hall was demolished in 1888 and replaced with a theater that hosted German, and later Yiddish, theater.

The first newspaper mention of the local hall was April 6, 1893. The Geneva Daily Gazette reported on the Endymion Academy rhetorical speaking contest. In December of that year, the Geneva Advertiser wrote, “The Independent Battery will give a private dancing party in Irving Hall, over the G.A.R. rooms, on Thursday evening of this week.”

Almost none of the Irving Hall newspaper notices mentioned an exact location. Lack of detail can be a weakness of primary sources like newspapers. Everyone knew where the hall was located, why name the address? One article stated Irving Hall was above the J.W. Smith Dry Goods Store on Seneca Street.

Irving Hall first appeared in the 1897 village directory at 42 Seneca, above J.W. Smith. (Irving Hall could be mistaken for a male tenant’s name if you didn’t know what you looking for.) It was there through 1906.

1909 map north side Seneca Street

1909 Sanborn map shows Irving Hall as a dance hall.

In 1907, the hall is listed at 36 Seneca Street above the Roenke & Rogers Dry Goods Store. Several of the buildings in that block of Seneca Street were open on the third floor. They were used as assembly halls, if the stores weren’t storing inventory there. There’s no explanation why the name Irving Hall moved addresses.

While Irving Hall was used for many events, by 1915 the Sanborn map showed it as the K.O.T.M Hall. The initials stood for the Knights of the Maccabees. It was a fraternal organization that also offered life insurance to members.

1915 map north side Seneca Street

1915 Sanborn map showed Irving Hall as the K.O.T.M Hall.

There were two local Maccabee “tents.” Fraternity Tent No. 529 met at 62 Seneca Street. Geneva Tent No. 292 met in Irving Hall. The ladies’ group, Geneva Hive No. 166, also met there. For several years there were newspaper announcements that the Foresters of America, and the ladies’ Companions of the Forest Lake View Circle No.765, were using the hall.

Irving Hall last appeared in the 1925 city directory. The above groups had moved to buildings on Castle Street. By 1929, the Home Dairy Bakery had moved into 36 Seneca Street.

2 responses to “Irving Hall”

  1. Dan Chacchia says:

    I have a Sanborn map last updated I believe in the early 1970s. Would you like it?

    1. Becky Chapin, Archivist says:

      We would definitely be interested. Feel free to drop by Mon-Fri 9:30-4:30 or Saturday 12-4. Thanks!

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