Turner Park on Williams Street has 84 acres of wooded terrain, two baseball diamonds, one softball diamond, walking trails and a two acre stream fed pond. It became a town park in the late 1960s.
Turner Park Pond, 2021
Most people would likely be surprised to hear this was formerly
the site of a busy restaurant.
Aerial View of Turner Park- 2021
The property has an interesting past that may not be well known today. The present park’s land was owned by the Springfield Turners. The “Turners”, derived from the German word “Turnverein,” were a social club formed in the late 19th century to promote German culture, physical exercise and liberal politics. A clubhouse and an informal German restaurant (Hofbrau) existed at the property starting in the late 19th century. “Turner Park” off Williams Street in Longmeadow, was the site of many outdoor outings by local businesses and organizations until the late 1960’s.
Early advertisements and photographs reveal that the popular restaurant was renowned for its shore dinners/clambakes, dance hall, and pleasant setting.
Prohibition (1919-1933) did not seem to deter some of the activities at Turner Park, though it seems that the restaurant was raided several times. A 1928 newspaper article reported that agents "seized in the raid something like a gallon of distilled spirits and 10 cases of home brew beer, the latter being boxed 24 bottles to the case.” Petitioners seeking a “Padlock Action” said that the inn was a “common nuisance” and asked that it be padlocked for one year.
The business survived and rebuilt after a fire in 1947, though in a different location on the property. Typical of a German Hofbrau German food, music and drink were the specialties.
Typical of a German Hofbrau German food, music and drink were the specialties.
As time passed the restaurant’s popularity declined and eventually closed permanently in 1968. William Kreiner, who owned the property for 40 years, remembered hosting 500 people at a time for clambakes, but never allowing swimming in the pond. “Beer and swimming do not mix, the surest way to die is to have a large clam supper, some beers, and go in swimming,” he told a reporter during the final auction of items from the restaurant.
The property was purchased by the town and was reborn as the current Turner Park facility. Little, if anything, remains of the old German Hofbrau but this is part of Longmeadow history that should be remembered. So now, if you ever hear the faint melody of a Bavarian band as you walk your dogs around the pond at Turner Park you will know why. It's just the ancient echo of fun times from long ago.
Contributed by Leonard Shaker, LHS Associate Member
Originally published January 6, 2022