MANSION INN. This is a premier bed
and breakfast experience smack in the middle of Texas' finest
Sleep in the H.D. Gruene's 1872
mansion / corn crib carriage house / barn, next to the Guadalupe River. Photo: Ira Kennedy
THE TOWN THAT SLEPT Story
& Photos by IRA KENNEDY
The Great Depression and the Boll Weevils came and went leaving the
like a neglected antique in the attic of Texas history. Sleeping no more, Gruene is alive
with the spirit of adventure,
commerce and history.
n 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.
BUCK POTTERY: Located in a "turn of the
century" barn featuring hand-thrown, wood-fired utilitarian and decorative stoneware
pottery. Watch a fine craftsman at work.
Ironically, if the town
hadn't been abandoned for so long it probably wouldn't be worth going to today.
THE GRISTMILL RIVER RESTAURANT
& BAR: Since 1977. Uniquely Texas, casual dining. River Room with hill country
fireplace, Garden Bar, multi-level deck and patio dining. Beneath the water tower
overlooking the Guadalupe river in an 1870s cotton gin. Steak, fish, chicken, burgers,
soups, salads, sandwiches and incredible desserts.
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.
GRUENE MANSION INN:
Henry D. Gruene's Victorian home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and
is a designated Texas Historic Landmark.
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.
VAN WILKS: The acclaimed
Texas musician (left) accompanied by Josh Smith entertains the customers on a Sunday
afternoon at Gruene Hall.
Gruene Hall, built as a saloon by
H.D. Gruene in the 1880s is a major attraction on thee 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.
One last thing: When shopping in Gruene tell them you
saw the article in Tourin'
Also in this issue:
You Can Get There From Here, But...
First we got lost. Then within 100 yards of Gruene
we had to turn around...
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