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Sokol Karel Havlicek Borovsky -- Ennis TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 32° 20.951 W 096° 35.804
14S E 726165 N 3581679
Quick Description: The Sokol Karel Havlicek Borovsky center in Ennis TX, home of the Ennis Polkafest and other events
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 4/2/2017 11:23:30 AM
Waymark Code: WMVCV6
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 4

Long Description:
The Sokol Karel Havlicek Borovsky is located on the Texas State Highway 34 a few miles east of the I-45 in Ennis TX.

This newest Sokol Center was built in 1991, but Sokol has been a part of the heavily-Czech town of Ennis since 1908.

From the Sokol Ennis website: (visit link)

"History of Sokol Ennis

As Sokol Ennis is now in it's 108th year we reflect on the organization's rich and interesting history. The organization is proud of its members' dedication to Sokol ideals.

During the 108 years of our unit, our membership had faced many challenges in promoting the Sokol movement founded by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindrich Fuegner in 1862 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The first challenge was met by the 25 immigrants that brought the Sokol idea from their homeland and in 1908 formed this unit. They named it after Karel Havlícek Borovský, a beloved Czech patriot, who faced many challenges during his lifetime.

After our organization in 1908, gym classes were held at the SPJST National Hall. In 1911, one acre of land (part of our current property) was purchased. In 1912, the first gymnasium was built for $4500. It burned down within six months. The second building was completed in 1913 for $4000 and some free labor. That building burned down sometime between 1914 and 1916. In 1917 construction began on our third building. It stood on the lower southwest corner of our current property, was built for $6000, and stood for 19 years. Due to the need for extensive repairs on the building, the members decided instead to build the fourth gymnasium which was completed in 1936 for $7000, plus free labor. An additional acre of land had been purchased in 1935. Three more adjoining acres were purchased in 1969. Our fifth building, the Sokol Gymnastic Center, was dedicated February 20-21, 1971. At that time, the value of the land and building was approximately $150,000. Additional acreage of 13.5 was purchased in 1974 at the cost of $2500 an acre. Tyrš Pool was completed in 1972. January 24, 1990 shortly before 11pm our 19 year old center caught fire. With the high winds the fire department was not able to save the building or it's contents. All 15 people in the social club at the time of the fire escaped without injury. The Sokol Gymnastic Center building and contents may have been lost, but the Sokol Spirit was not about to knuckle under. Within 48 hours of the fire and with the help of the Ennis Fire Dept., the American flag once again flew proudly from the flagpole as a symbol of our enduring spirit. Within days also, a special meeting was held by the Board of Instructors and plans were in place to continue classes, limited as they would have to be to "floor" activities, at the KJT Auditorium. The February membership meeting (attended by an extraordinarily large number of members) took up the question of what to do next. The question was never "if", but only "how quickly" could we rebuild? President Larry Laznovsky was empowered to select and convene a building committee to get on with the job at hand. At this point, no one could try appreciate the magnitude of the ask being undertaken.

Although the KJT allowed us to conduct classes in their facility, it would be necesary to relocate to another facility that would better support a full gymnastic program. The old vacant Studebaker warehouse in town was the choice and became known as the "warehouse gym". Thanks to our membership renovation work & cleanup was undertaken. Sokol Žižka & Sokol Ft. Worth loaned us gymnastic equipment. The pool house on our property was also used for meetings until the pool was to open for the summer. At this time it was decided to build a permanent 40 X 60, 2400 sq. ft. storage building which would house the social club, serve as our meeting place, and be able to hold any building materials. National Polka Festival was coming and we needed to decide what we would do. As planned we participated by having a large "Big Top" tent on our property. We also hosted the Southern District Slet utilizing the warehouse gym, St. John's gym, the SPJST hall, and our own drill field at "the property", as it had come to be known.

On August 28th, the building committee (Bros. Larry Lazvnovsky, Sammy Pleiner, Mark Kelley, Lou Green, Bill Snodgrass, and Jerry Wester) presented the building/floor plans for the new building. Soon afterwards this massive job was started. Many members donated their time & energy to help with the building & cleanup. On April 21, 1991, the doors opened for the grand opening of the new Sokol Activity Center.

Although much personal sacrifice was required in order for Sokol to survive, especially during the depression years, the years were memorable. Musical inspiration was provided by the Sokol Band which performed at all our activities. Annual events included the posvícení (a bazaar type event with a gym program and dinner), a May celebration complete with a greased maypole to climb for gifts awaiting at the top, Czech Independence Day in October, masquerade, Halloween, Easter, and New Year's Dances were traditional. Mother's and Father's Day socials were held. Socials many times were held for no particular reason, but just to get together.

In the early days, gymnasts traveled by buggy to get to classes. Apparatus was limited, but other activities took its place; marching and singing were popular. Tug of war was enjoyed and hand apparatus was used. Exhibitions (verejne cviceni) were held locally each year and together with other units. We also had akademie (programs on the stage). Gymnasts from neighboring units visited each other and participated in exhibitions. Exhibitions have continued in Ennis through the years.

We are proud each year to be part of the National Polka Festival. We have a float or a marching unit of gymnasts in the parade each year as well as polka bands at the activity center. We also annually participate in Heritage Day at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. The unit's first participation in this event was in 1936 in the Cotton Bowl. The unit also performed in the Czech Sesquicentennial program in the Cotton Bowl in 1986. Other memorable performances include pre-game and half-time performances at Texas Stadium in Irving.

As testimony to the brotherhood of our organization, we have enjoyed a close association with other Czech organizations. Many of these have shared our homes with us. These included Lodge Volná Cechie, SPJST 135 WFLA Texas Libbie Lodge 402, RVOS Lodge 135, and the Ennis Ladies Sewing Circle.

In 1989 Sokol Ennis was honored by the Gymnastic Association of the State of Texas for its "Service to Youth". Further recognition was given for 80 years of continuous gymnastic training and for being the oldest such organization in the state.

Ennis is currently the seat of the Southern District of the American Sokol Organization. We will continue to play a role in the preservation of the Sokol Idea and our Czech culture as we practice fellowship of men and women who pursue a program of gymnastics and physical education for its development of good health, sound moral values, and to live in harmony for mankind. With the philosophy of "Physical perfection should go hand in hand with a noble mind", Sokol Ennis will continue to carry on the work of its forefathers."
Currently in use by Sokol: yes

Date Built or Acquired: 1/1/1991

Related Website: [Web Link]

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WalksfarTX visited Sokol Karel Havlicek Borovsky -- Ennis TX 6/22/2018 WalksfarTX visited it
Benchmark Blasterz visited Sokol Karel Havlicek Borovsky -- Ennis TX 3/10/2017 Benchmark Blasterz visited it

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