The Grünau Ballroom and Restaurant was built in 1874 and demolished in February 2020. Before it became a dance hall, it was a modest beer house with the German name of Gesellschaftshaus, which means a place for those of high society to meet.
Construction began in 1874 in the Grünau district of Berlin. A local stockbroker used his own money to construct and open a venue which would ultimately become a luxury vacation spot for Berlin’s nobility.
Initially, the venue operated as a regular beer house but it became the Riveria House after it was rebuilt in 1888. Its main attractive feature was its location: a picturesque site by the Dahme River.
In 1890, the owner rebuilt the bar again and made it into a dance hall named the Ballhaus Riviera. The ceilings reached eight meters (26 feet) high.
The Riviera quickly became one of the most sophisticated holiday destinations in all of Berlin, attracting party-goers and fun lovers from all over the place. As its popularity grew, it offered a wealth of different musicians to accompany the dancers as musicians were eager to play here.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the building was sold to Johannes Bittner, who rebuilt it in 1920. The new owner hired Berlin architect Otto Gerth for the renovation. Bittner also acquired an adjoining territory and expanded the dance hall by adding a restaurant set in a garden with palm trees.
The renovated building was now a concert and restaurant complex. Other recreational facilities were added, including a water playground and another open-air dance floor. In addition, a pier for steamboats was installed.
During World War II, the Riviera suffered quite a bit. After the war, the complex was managed by the Soviet occupation administration. However, the complex recovered and continued its activities, offering balls, performances, concerts, and even sporting events. In June 1880, the first Grünau Regatta was held.
The facade of the building was made up of bricks with many decorative elements. However, after an overhaul in 1957, all the decorative elements were removed, and the facade was instead covered with gray stucco. It stayed like this for the rest of its life.
The complex had been quite an important place in the social structure of the district. Consequently, the buildings were considered part of the area’s historical heritage and were given protected status in 1977.
In the 1980s, the owners were forced to close the dance hall because of its terrible condition. Nevertheless, the rest of the premises continued to function until 1991.
By 1991, it had become clear that the whole complex was in desperate need of substantial restoration. But the owners didn’t have the funds to cover such work, so the buildings were closed and abandoned.
In August 2000, a small restaurant was opened on the site, but it was only operational until October of that year.
In 2006, an investor from Ankara, Turkey, acquired the complex with the goal of turning this historic building into hotels. However, no action was taken, and the state of the buildings began to get steadily worse. In the summer of 2019, a fire occurred which resulted in the destruction of the dance hall.
After it became clear that the complex was not going to undergo any restoration, there was talk of demolishing all the buildings. After that, there were plans to build a residence for senior citizens.
The dance hall and its associated buildings were demolished in February 2020 and Berlin lost a piece of its history.
The photographs were taken in 2016 and you can find more of them via this link.
A big thank you to Alexandr and his LiveJournal account for sharing such amazing photographs about a site crammed with rich history! Alex lives in Germany and has got an account where he writes about different locations. You should definitely check out his LiveJournal account and Facebook page.