Fredericksburg’s German heritage is so renowned that it has the distinction of being listed in the book “1000 Places to See before You Die”. Founded in 1846, the city was named for Prince Frederick of Prussia, a member of the Adelsverein … a German society promoting emigration to Texas.
Downtown Fredericksburg — Strolling the Hauptstrasse
All roads into Fredericksburg lead to the Hauptstrasse (Main Street). Running through the business district, the Haupstrasse is lined with century-old buildings with enough gingerbread and wrought-iron detail to confirm the town’s German heritage.
The vintage storefronts comprise one of the most enjoyable business districts we have encountered. In a relatively small area there is a multitude of unique stores including an old fashion five and dime, eateries offering everything from schnitzel to gourmet fare, German biergartens, mouthwatering bakeries, nationally renowned art galleries, wine tasting rooms, museums, a violin maker and music ….lots and lots of music from oompah to country.
The former White Elephant Saloon wins our award for the most captivating old storefront. Built in 1888, it was once part of a chain of "Gentleman's Resorts” … the elephant is said to have been a symbol of German drinking halls. The relief of the white elephant framed by the lacy wrought iron rail is spectacular. Click here to see more detail.
The streets in Fredericksburg are unique. The Hauptstrasse, known as one of widest in the state, was designed by the settlers so that a team of oxen, pulling a wagon could make a U-turn. Curbs are so high on some streets that ramps have to be built from the street to the driveways. But most amusing is that the first letters of the streets spell "All Welcome" in one direction and "Come Back" in the other.
One of the most recognizable landmark buildings on Main Street is the 1897 Schandua Building. For several generations the upstairs rooms served as a residence for the family who operated a hardware store downstairs.
The Palace Theater opened in 1922 and was in continuous operation until 2000 when it was closed and quickly sold. A local told us that the city was unaware of the sale and because of the uproar from the residents, the new owner gave the city one week to raise a million dollars to buy it back … alas this just wasn’t enough time to raise the cash. Too bad, because now this unique building is just another over priced Western Wear store.
Sherry thought the Der Lindenbaum, another German restaurant really captured that old world German charm.
One of the largest buildings on Main Street is the former county courthouse. Built in 1882, it was restored and rededicated as the Pioneer Memorial Library in 1967. The interior is very stately with dark wood paneling and chandeliers.
Built in 1887, the Bank of Fredericksburg served the residences banking needs until 1936. In the early days the first floor served as the bank, with the second floor devoted to the bank owner’s residence. For a better view of the second story ... click here.
In the Marktplatz (market square) is the most beloved city landmark … the Vereins Kirche. This unique octagonal building is an exact replica of Fredericksburg’s first public building … a structure that served not only as a community church, but as meeting place, school, & refuge from possible Indian attacks. Now it is a small historical museum featuring vintage photographs and artifacts about life in early Fredericksburg.
Surrounding the Vereins Kirche is a small garden with several monuments. Most striking is the bronze commemorating one of the more interesting aspects of Fredericksburg’s history … the signing of the Meusebach-Comanche Treaty. The early German settlers became the only immigrant group to successfully negotiate peace with the Indians. It is said to be the only treaty between white settlers and Native Americans that was never broken. Click here for a more detailed view.
Seeing the monument to Jacob Brodbeck reminded of why we enjoy traveling. Who knew that Brodbeck’s attempts at powered flight predated the success of Orville and Wilbur Wright by almost 40 years? In this part of Texas Brodbeck is known as the Father of U.S. Aviation.
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