We found ourselves transported back to the 19th century as we strolled the two short blocks of Comfort's historic town center. The buildings are authentic and the area has a refreshing laid back vibe.
Comfort — Dominos and Atheists
The legacy of Comfort's intriguing and somewhat radical history is memorialized in stone. Several monuments recall the amazing story of the towns founders … the "Freethinkers." These German immigrants were outspoken in their support of abolition, equal rights, free speech, women's suffrage, and secular schools. No church was erected in the town for 40 years since most folks were decidedly unreligious.
In the center of town stands the German Freethinker Settlers Cenotaph. It is the second such monument erected in Comfort … the first was “kidnapped” when it became known that the Atheist Community of Austin had made contributions … some residents feared their town would become a "Mecca for atheists.”
The second memorial to the Comfort Founding Freethinkers was dedicated only after a five year controversy regarding the wording on the historical marker. When it became known that the marker was to state that the Freethinkers followed no religious dogma and built no churches, more than 700 people opposed the wording with a petition headlined ''No Monument to Atheism in Comfort.'' The Texas State Historical Commission, who felt the town’s history could not be rewritten, brought in five outside scholars to resolve the matter. Click here to read the text that was finally agreed upon.
Fortunately many of Comfort’s historic structures survived the disastrous flood that occurred in 1978. One of our favorites is the Old Comfort State Bank building. Built in 1907, it served Comforts banking needs until 1960. We loved its hand-cut stone, polished red granite columns, round-headed windows and corner entrance.
This is thought to be the oldest limestone structure in Comfort. Built in 1876 as a private home it was converted to a barbershop in 1910 … there has been a barber cutting hair and shaving faces in this building ever since.
The former Ingenhuett-Faust Hotel has been restored and now houses antiques and "Bed and Breakfast" accommodations. Built in1880, the building originally had 3-rooms. Over the years it has been enlarged to 18 rooms.
Built in 1890 this former blacksmith shop is unique among blacksmith shops … it was constructed of limestone and had a second story used for living quarters. The historical plaque told us that the rock mason worked on the lower level for almost a year, walking to the job each week from Sisterdale, a small town 15 miles away.
Built in 1908, this one story brick building was used as the Comfort Post Office until 1952. Since then it has been an apartment and various businesses … its latest incarnation is as an inviting bistro.
History went up in smoke when the Ingenhuett General Store burned down in 2006.
Established just after the Civil War in1867, the Ingenhuett General Store was billed as the longest continually operated general store in Texas. The store was Comfort's historical center and gathering place for more than a century … the blaze literally ripped the heart out of the community.
A local tradition developed where every Friday locals gathered in front of the Ingenhuett General Store to play dominos. They even posted their own sign out front ... of course, this was all in good fun.
During our visit, we noticed several wreaths on the fence in front of the burned out ruins. We're assuming that one of Comfort's domino players had passed away ... thus, this heartfelt memorial.
The former August Faltin store was built in 1879. Over the years this Victorian Italian structure has had several owners and undergone several expansions. In 1968 the property was sold back to the Faltin family and in 1974 great grandson August Faltin restored the upstairs area into two apartments.
One of the most curious former industries in Comfort was the Apelt Armadillo Company. Up until 1971 the company paid folks to hunt and kill the shy nocturnal creatures so their shells could be fashioned into such kitsch items as armadillo-shell basket, lamps, wall hangings, and other curios. The farm also supplied live armadillos to individuals, research institutions and zoos.
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