Constructed in 1901, Turner Hall was completed by Frank Kvasnicka, Sr and a few other motived local men. Post rock was quarried in from 5 miles outside of Wilson to construct a building complete with dining hall, kitchen, gymnasium, stage floor, and balcony.
Turner Hall,The Original
In early 1900’s the Sokal team practiced and entertained in a gym that occupied the basement of the Opera House. The team earned trophies and high honors. Traveling shows came to Wilson on the train and entertained to a full house from the stage.
The Sokol movement is an all-age gymnastics organization first founded in Prague in the Czech region of Austria-Hungary in 1862 by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fügner. It was based upon the principle of "a strong mind in a sound body". The Sokol, through lectures, discussions, and group outings provided what Tyrš viewed as physical, moral, and intellectual training for the nation.
Installed in 1912, the first “movie machine” showed movies several nights a week. Cesky Den"Czech Day," a Thanksgiving celebration for the Wilson Czech Lodges, filled the hall each autumn.
Due to the decline of Sokal memberships, the gymnastic team discontinued. The unoccupied gym was filled and a concrete floor was poured. This made room for a museum. Donations of memorabilia from families in Wilson and surrounding communities allowed the museum to become a point of interest for Wilson. Entertainment continued to be enjoyed with dances, banquets, weddings, school programs, dinner theatre, Czech Queen Pageants, and traveling shows for many years.
In early hours of November 2009,a devastating fire started in a nearby building and spread to the Opera House. By the time the fire was extinguished, the historic entertainment venue was in ruins.
In June of 1986, the Wilson Czech Opera House Corporation formed.
To date, well over $200,00 has been raised to revitalize the structure.
Additional funds are needed to complete the steel bracing and finishing to create the open air theatre.