Gruene, New Braunfels, Texas
Gruene (// green) is a former town in Comal County in the U.S. state of Texas. Once a significant cotton-producing community along the Guadalupe River, the town has now shifted its economy to one supported primarily by tourism. Gruene is now a district within the city limits of New Braunfels, and much of it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 21, 1975. It is part of the San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Establishment and rise to prominence
Gruene's history begins in 1872 when first generation German American farmer Heinrich (Henry) D. Gruene purchased 6,000 acres (24 km2) of farmland three miles (5 km) north of New Braunfels along the Guadalupe River. He built his house and planted his surrounding land with cotton. In 1878, Gruene opened a mercantile store to serve the several dozen or so families sharecropping on his land. Originally known as "Goodwin", the town benefited by its location along the stagecoach route between Austin and San Antonio, the store thrived for many years and stimulated local commercial growth. Gruene Hall, which opened in 1878, is one of the oldest dance halls in Texas. The Thorn Hill School and three large cotton gins soon followed. By the time the International-Great Northern Railroad was built across Comal County in the 1880s, the small community was bustling with commercial and farming activity, and officially took the name "Gruene" after its founding father and most prominent citizen.
Decline and abandonment
By 1900, Gruene was a prominent banking, ginning, and shipping center for area cotton farming. Though it never had a post office of its own, the community did possess two freight rail stations by the 1910s. Gruene was decimated, however, by the boll weevil blight of the 1920s, and further doomed by the effects of the Great Depression. By 1930, the population had fallen to 75, and post World War II highway construction bypassed the town. By 1950, Gruene had become a ghost town.
Revival and renaissance
As a result of the restoration of area structures, such as the Gruene Hall and old mercantile store, Gruene began a rebirth of sorts in the early 1970s. Redevelopment and restoration of the area continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s and today, and though no longer an autonomous community (it was annexed by New Braunfels in 1979), Gruene maintains a thriving tourist business. Many original structures from the town's heyday still exist, including the Gruene Family Home, a Victorian-style edifice built in 1872 which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and today operates as the Gruene Mansion Inn. A historic water tower rises above Gruene Hall, and other buildings at the heart of the district have been renovated into shops and restaurants. There is also a wine-tasting room.
- Texas State Historical Commission. "Gruene Historical Marker".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gruene, New Braunfels, Texas.|
- Official Gruene, Texas, web site
- Official Gruene Hall web site
- Gruene Mansion Inn
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Gruene, Texas