Chapter History

The Beginnings

In February 1947, several men of the La Crosse area began gathering weekly to establish a chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (SPEBSQSA). They met in the “old” Central High School, located on the South side of the 1500 block of Cass St., where Weigent Park is today.

By April, they were formally chartered by the non-profit Society as the Coulee Chordsmen when they put on a show featuring their chorus, and local and guest quartets. Membership grew to about one hundred twenty in the early 1950’s.  Over the years television and other societal trends impacted the number of men joining the chapter. Today, the current membership consists of fifty-five men with thirty to thirty-five regularly participating in the chorus.

In an unbroken series since 1947, the Chordsmen have produced spring shows and each August they perform Harmony Under the Stars (HUTS) at riverside Park. The summer performance is a benefit concert with a voluntary donation given to charities and service organizations.

Through the years the chorus and quartets have performed, free of charge, for audiences in schools, care centers, hospitals, and churches. The chorus and quartets also participate in fund raising events in the Coulee Region.  In a typical year, the total audience impact ranges between seven thousand five-hundred and ten thousand persons.