The historic community of Gruene, Texas was founded by German immigrants Ernst and Antoinette Gruene in 1849. The Gruene family, including their two sons had immigrated to New Braunfels in 1845, but land was scarce, so Ernst Gruene moved his family down the river and built them a home in the German style of fach werk, and the city of Gruene got its start.
The Gruene family planted cotton on their land, and a few years later, twenty to thirty more families arrived in Gruene, to help farm the fields and build homes for their families. The settlers built homes in a variety of styles, including wooden frame homes, Victorian cottages, and large, brick homes. A mercantile store was opened in 1878, called the Gruene General Store, and a cotton mill which was powered by the Guadalupe River was built around the same time, in the late 1800s.
The town prospered, and shortly thereafter, a restaurant and dance hall was built, and is still in operation today, known widely as Gruene Hall, the centerpiece of the community of Gruene. A new mercantile company opened its doors in 1904, but Ernst Gruene’s son Henry B. Gruene’s death in 1920 spurred the decline of prosperity in the small city of in Gruene, since he had become a prominent civic leader and farmer, with his father and brother.
In 1922, the cotton gin burned to the ground and was replaced by an electric model, called Adobe Verde, but the depression hastened the decline of most of the family-run businesses, and all of them closed except Gruene Hall. The advent of the boll weevil had taken a toll on the community as well, and most of the farms suffered immensely as a result of boll weevil infestation.
The town was reduced to the state of a ghost town until 1974, when Pat Molak moved to town and bought Gruene Hall. The dance hall needed a few repairs, but shortly after Molak purchased to hall and restored it, the 6,000 square foot dance hall and outdoor pavilion became a magnet for local musicians and free spirits. Molak purchased and restored various other historic structures with his friend Mary Jane Nalley, and life was breathed back into the town of Gruene.
Subsequently, the town of Gruene was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and many other structures restored by Gruene were awarded the Medallion from the Texas Historical Commission, as well as recognized by the travel industry as an authentic historic Texas town. Today, Gruene is a mecca for antique aficionados, and included among the numerous antique shops are the Black Swan, Hampe House, the Gruene Antique Company.
There are also quite a few gift shops, pottery stores, and art galleries, including Buck Pottery, and the Dancing Bear, as well as Gallerie at Gruene, Grandmother Moons, and the Grapevine. For candy lovers, visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth at the Great Texas Pecan Candy Shop with some pralines or pecan fudge.
For a more substantial meal, visitors can tempt their palates at the Grist Mill River Restaurant and Bar, the River House Tearoom, or the Gruene Coffee House, or the Adobe Verde, which was originally a gin mill and has been transformed into a cantina with an outside deck to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
For lodging in Gruene, visitors can stay in Henry Gruene’s original home, the Gruene Mansion Inn, which has been converted into a rustic Victorian bed and breakfast, replete with southern style breakfast items, barns, and a carriage house.
Gruene is truly a jewel in the heart of the hill country, so come on over to hear authentic Texas music in a historic Texas dance hall, and grab a bite while you’re there. The only problem is: you might not want to leave!!