The Beat Goes On: Round Top Rifle Hall
Round Top Rifle Hall is the historic home of the Round Top Rifle Association, Fayette County’s oldest German social club. The Rifle Association, organized under the name of Round Top Schützen Verein, was formed in 1873.
“I remember the Rifle Hall before it was added on to in the 1950s to make room for tables. At that time, benches lined the dance hall’s perimeter.
“When you came in the front door, the ticket man was immediately to the left, and behind him was a structure made out of chicken wire. It was called the ‘Bull Pen,’ and was the designated spot for young men who wanted to come watch the dancing, but not participate.
“There were two price points for tickets—fifty cents for dancers and twenty-five cents for non-dancers. The Bull Pen kept the spectators from sneaking on the dance floor.”
– Ronny Sacks, former president Round Top Rifle Association
According to its charter, the Schützen Verein was created, in part for: “. . . the support and encouragement of innocent out-door [sic] sports such as bicycle riding, target shooting and trap shooting, open air athletics, games and others of a similar nature.”
On April 21, 1881, the association, under the leadership of President G. C. Kaiser, bought 5.45 acres of land from William and Wihemina Graff for $145.
As a historical side note, President Kaiser was killed as a result of the now-famous cannon accident that marred one of the early Fourth of July celebrations in Round Top. In an attempt to get the attention of their neighbors in Warrenton, eager cannoneers rolled the Civil War era weapon to a nearby hilltop. They overfilled the powder and stuffed the cannon with cord wood. The cannon exploded, and Kaiser died a day later from injuries sustained from the shrapnel. The cannon is still fired to signal the beginning of present day Fourth of July celebrations.
On October 23, 1890, the association bought an additional 5.5 acres from Wilhemina Graff, who had been widowed in the interim. Current members believe the dance hall was built in the mid-1880s.
Today, in addition to the original mission stated in its charter, Rifle Association members have committed to maintaining the historic building.
Round Top Rifle Hall
710 FM 1457
Round Top, Texas 78954
The hall and pavilion can be rented for private events.
On-going Events: New Year’s Eve Dance • Fourth of July Celebration
Schützenfest (mid-September each year) • OktoBierFest (the last weekend of October)
“The Rifle Association is the oldest German social club in the county. I don’t think there are any other dance
halls still in existence that have an active social club supporting them. For many of us, the Rifle Association is a tradition that has included our father, our grandfathers and our great grandfathers. My son Michael, who is president now, represents the fifth generation of Sacks to be involved.”
–Ronny Sacks, former president Round Top Rifle Association
Fayette County is home to more historic dance halls than any other county in Texas. Each one has a story. Whether they were founded by a local social club, benevolent organization or private individuals, they served as community gathering places.
Unfortunately, today many historic dance halls are disappearing because the times they are a changing. Those that continue to thrive are often used for more than dancing.
Also read about the Round Top Dance Hall that continues to pulse with life, laughter and lots of happenings. Enjoy learning a little about their history—and attend some of their events to ensure the beat goes on.
by Lorie Woodward Cantu
photos by Dixie Ray Hamilton an courtesy of Round Top Rifle Hall