THE HISTORY OF GRUENE HISTORIC DISTRICT
Arriving in Texas in the mid 1840s, German farmers became the first settlers of what is now known as Gruene, Texas. Ernst Gruene,
a German immigrant, and his bride Antoinette, had reached the newly established city of New Braunfels in 1845, but acreage was
scarce. Thus, Ernst and his two sons purchased land just down river, and Ernst built the first home in Gruene in early fachwerk
style. His second son, Henry D. Gruene, built his home (now Gruene Mansion Inn) and planted his surrounding land with cotton.
Having become the number one cash crop, the cotton business soon brought 20 to 30 families to Henry D.'s lands.
As the town continued to prosper, a new mercantile building (now Gruene Antique Company) sprang up in 1904. However, the death of Henry
D. in 1920 marked the downfall of Gruene's development and good fortune. In 1922, the original cotton gin burned and was replaced by a
modern electric model down the road (now Adobe Verde). Yet, the economic disasters of the boll weevil and the Depression were too much
for the family businesses and they went under, except for Gruene Hall, which never closed.
In 1974, Chip Kaufman, an architecture student at UT Austin working with the Texas Historical Commission and an avid kayaker floated down a little further on the Guadalupe River than usual, to the southern most public takeout known as The Gruene Crossing. After catching a glimpse of an old water tower up the hill peeking above the treetops, he decided to investigate. Astonished by his discovery of numerous late 1800ís and early 1900ís buildings, some with architectural layering, he immediately realized their significance and requested permission from the Texas Historical Commission to inventory the buildings for their records, which they approved. While doing this he learned that a group of real estate developers had purchased the last 200+ acres of the Gruene Estate, including all the historic buildings, and planned a housing development which included razing the old structures to build condominiums on the river bluff. Kaufman convinced the developers of the significance of the buildings in Texas history and with their blessing Kaufman worked to place Gruene on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 as an entire district. The developers further agreed to let Kaufman find new owners interested in the old buildings for new commercial ventures which would provide a core for their new housing development. Pat Molak was among the first of the new owners.