The Birthplace of Western Swing

The Crystal Springs on the River site has a strong music heritage. On its land once lay the Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion, which was a popular dance hall and a multi-purpose family entertainment center featuring music, barbeque parties, fishing and swimming in natural springs water. This hall was historically important because it was the place where, between 1930 and 1936, the founding fathers of Western Swing music, Milton Brown (1903-1936) and Bob Wills (1905-1975), first improvised a style of music known as Western Swing, which at that time was properly called “Hillbilly” or “Honky-tonk”.

The Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion with its nightly music performances and regularly crowded parties existed from about 1916 until 1966, and for most of this time it was owned by the Cunningham family. In 1966, however, the dance hall was completely destroyed by fire. Although the fire destroyed the building, it did not erase the amazing music memories that were created on that site, and most importantly its ties to the birth of Western Swing music, which are still celebrated and discussed among Western Swing music fans and historians around the world.


  • Ginnell, Cary, Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing, University of Illinois Press, 1994
  • Courtesy of Roy Lee Brown