About The Mansion
The Great Depression and the Boll Weevils came and went leaving the town abandoned like a neglected antique in the attic of Texas history. Sleeping no more, Gruene is alive with the spirit of adventure, commerce and history.
On a back road between San Marcos and New Braunfels near the banks of the Guadalupe River rests the community of Gruene, Texas. The whole town is a historical landmark registered with the prestigious National Registry of Historic Places.
Founded over a hundred hears ago by Ernst and Antoinette Gruene from Hannover, Germany, the town was once an important way station between Austin and San Antonio. It served as a stage stop for the Brown and Tarbox Stage Coach Lines for years; then in 1900 it was a station stop for two railroads. The town prospered at the turn of the century through cotton production. The cotton gin, general store and grist mill hummed with business until the boll weevil and the great depression virtually emptied the town.
After years of silence and neglect the town came back to life. By 1977 a saddle factory, winery (since closed), dance hall and numerous shops opened attracting neighbors and tourists alike.Ironically, if the town hadn’t been abandoned for so long it probably wouldn’t be worth going to today.
As a designated historical landmark all of the buildings in town are being restored to their original condition. There are some excellent examples in Gruene of 19th Century Victorian and mid-century German colonial buildings.
To get a real feel for what’s happening in Gruene you should spend a long afternoon and visit many of the other flourishing businesses around the downtown area.
Gruene Hall, built as a saloon by H.D. Gruene in the 1880s is a major attraction on the weekends for some live country music. Such notable musicians as Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, and George Strait began their careers there playing on the weekends. Also, Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Dixie Chicks have held center stage at “The Oldest Dancehall in Texas”.
Next to the dance hall is a restaurant in the building that was once the grist mill. Today, The Grist Mill Restaurant makes a most unusual place for dining. The atmosphere is literally open air. You can relax at their full bar, enjoy beautiful patio dining and buy a t-shirt to commemorate the visit.
Text ©2002 Ira Kennedy. Reprinted by permission.
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