Concordia Hall Collection of Jewish Event Materials Now Open to Researchers

For almost forty years, the Concordia Association, a social club established in 1864 to serve the Jewish community in Little Rock, leased space in various downtown buildings. Their meeting rooms, known at each location as Concordia Hall, often also served other Jewish organizations, as well as non-Jewish groups and individuals.

In 1882, the Concordia Association arranged with liquor distributors Max Hilb and William Probst to include a second story on their new building at 409 E. Markham. This space served as Concordia Hall until April 1887, when the association moved to a two-story space in the Rossner Building at 3rd and Main. The Concordia Hall space in the Probst and Hilb building, later remodeled to cover two stories, is now part of the CALS Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art.

The Concordia Hall Collection (BC.MSS.17.17), containing material preserved by the Ehrenberg family, includes items from events held in the Probst and Hilb building, as well as at other locations. Donated to the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies by Harry Ehrenberg Jr., the collection consists primarily of programs and dance cards. Emma and Annie Cohen, whose names are penciled in on several of the items, were the daughters of Bernard and Rebecca Cohen, neighbors of the Ehrenberg family on Cumberland Street in Little Rock.

This item from the collection, the program and dance card from a wedding, provides an example of an event held at Concordia Hall but not sponsored by the association. The wedding reception, held on April 7, 1885, took place in the building that is now part of the CALS Roberts Library. It celebrated the marriage of Emil Werner and Minnie Lyons. The reception committees included two of Minnie’s brothers, and the program consisted of a total of eighteen dances.

 

Notes on the Werner/Lyons Family

Emil Werner (November 16, 1858–February 15, 1921) was born in Posen, Germany, and arrived in New York on August 1, 1876; he filed for naturalization August 7, 1918. He worked as a travel agent and as a traveling salesman, still in Little Rock in 1902. Around that year, however, he and his wife moved to St. Louis.

Minnie Lyons Werner (1864–1961), who was born in Kentucky, was the daughter of Samuel and Sophie Lyons. Samuel was a butcher, born in Bavaria. Per the 1870 census, they moved back and forth between Augusta, Arkansas, and Kentucky.

Samuel went into the cotton and mercantile business, first in Augusta and then in Little Rock. The Lyons family moved to Little Rock in 1874 and lived on the corner of Broadway and Capitol. Per an article in the Leonardville, Kansas, newspaper, his wife Sophie had died in 1877. On April 17, 1897, Samuel went to Oakland Cemetery and shot himself on Sophie’s grave.

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The Butler Center’s Concordia Hall collection provides a small but colorful window on the social life of the Jewish community in Little Rock at the end of the nineteenth century, as well as on its interactions with organizations and individuals from the wider community. Read more about the Jewish community in Arkansas in the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas here.

The Concordia Hall Collection can be accessed in the Roberts Library Research Room, and the finding aid is available online here.

By Shirley Schuette, CALS Butler Center Research Services

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