When you walk through the halls of the Bonham Exchange, you’re not just walking into the hottest night club in San Antonio, you’re literally traveling back into time. Our history extends back to 1891. That’s when Turn Verin, a German athletic association, whose purpose was to the improvement of the mind through the development of the body, purchased the land our beloved Bonham sits on.
On April 18 of that year, architect James Wahrenberger and builder Adam Maurer, set out to erect Turner Hall for just under $35,000. The building would contain a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and a grand ballroom for formal events. The 20,000 square foot facility would be covered in pressed Chicago brick, lined with Kerrville limestone, and granite.
Nine months later, on January 30, 1892, a luxurious and festive grand opening party was held. It was covered by the then, San Antonio Daily Express, which would later become the San Antonio Express News. It was acclaimed as an affair worthy of the occasion, eclipsed in elegance by everyone who had witnessed it, and would be remembered in local social circles for many years. However, the founding family, the Turners, faced some struggles in the coming decades as their children did not share their love and enthusiasm for fitness nor the essential interest in the athletic association. Nonetheless, the Turners had ideas for expanding the Hall.