A Place to Tap Your Feet – The Col Ballroom

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times (how many of us heard that saying growing up?), the early Quad City Germans loved to sing and parade through town.  It wasn’t just local Germans truthfully.  When Davenport held special events it could be counted on that thousands of fellow Germans would arrive in town to help celebrate with them.  One such event was the Eighteenth National Saengerfest of the Sangerbund of the Northwest concert that was held in Davenport in July 1898.  This national concert and competition brought in a reported 100,000 fellow singers and supporters to the area.  What a party and potential future blog article!

Where to hold such a large event?  How about a Saengerfest Hall built with musical events, and acoustics, in mind? Built in 1898 the Saengerfest Hall located at 1029 – 1053West 4th Street was remodeled in 1906 and reopened as The Coliseum in 1907.  It held not only musical events and dances, but also the first auto shows in Davenport and boxing events attended by thousands of people.  This all ended on October 21, 1913 when the Coliseum burnt to the ground.

This wasn’t the end of the Coliseum though (otherwise this would be a very short blog). The Coliseum was rebuilt at 1012 West 4th Street (instead of wood as with the original structure, this time brick was used as a safety measure) across the road from the original site and reopened on October 27, 1914 with a long list of musical events from the Redpath-Vawter Series dedicating the beautiful new building. 3,000 people attended the event. 

Later renamed the Col Ballroom, this structure has been the site of many musical and social events through the years.  Bix Beiderbecke, Jimmy Hendrix, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, and the Beach Boys have all played at the Col.  High school proms, weddings, political rallies, and war fundraisers have all been part of the building’s history too.  There even were 1920s Charleston dance contests at the Col along with dance marathons in the 1930s.  Don’t imagine these wonderful events are a thing of the past either.  In 1995 the Quad Cities Mexican American Organization took over the Col Ballroom and under their control the Col had a wonderful restoration in 2007 that reintroduced to a new generation original features of the building that had been hidden for years. Perfect to bring back memories while creating a unique place to create new ones.

Now a days the Col hosts bingo, wedding receptions, bands during Bix, a Mexican-American Debutant Ball (education and volunteering are highlighted for these debutantes), and the post-St. Patrick’s Society Grande Parade Bash with music and dancing  just to name a few events that keep the Col hopping.   Small bands still play their shows at the Col.  Kevin Costner and his band performed there just a few weeks ago for over 700 people!  What a wonderful place still making happy memories for those in the Quad Cities! We hope the QCMAO continues to keep this dance land dancing and making memories for years to come.

(Amy D.)

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