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Exploring New Braunfels' Vintage Village

By Allison Wilson

The New Braunfels Conservation Society is dedicated to preserving and sharing the community's historic buildings, artifacts and stories to "keep its unique heritage alive." And there are many reasons that heritage is so unique.

"Historically we are noted as the only known community in Texas founded by a Prince," says Martha Rehler, Executive Director of the New Braunfels Conservation Society.

"Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels founded New Braunfels in March 1845. We have the shortest navigable river in the state of Texas, the Comal River, which meets at the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels as it continues on its way to the Gulf Coast. Landa Park has been a destination for visitors since the 1890s. It has a spring-fed pool and is a registered Arboretum with over 90 species of trees, and our Naeglin's Bakery is the longest continuously operating bakery in the state of Texas."

The New Braunfels Conservation Society has a rich history of its own. The organization was established with its first project to preserve and restore the beloved Lindheimer Home. This distinct, 1845 structure was the residence of an early German settler named Ferdinand Lindheimer. Known as the "Father of Texas Botany," Lindheimer also began the Neu Braunfelser-Zeitung, the first German newspaper in New Braunfels.

When Lindheimer's historic home became threatened by city development, 25 passionate members of the community stepped up to save it and formed the New Braunfels Conservation Society. Membership, now more than 200 strong, is filled with passionate and involved people from all over the United States. The organization has raised funds to save and move notable historic structures and collections to its 3.5-acre village, including 18 restored/furnished fachwerk buildings arranged to resemble a German Village, a 1907 REO automobile and a 1898 painted pipe organ.

"When visiting New Braunfels Conservation Society's properties you will not only be able to tour Lindheimer's historic home, but also the first known two-story home in Texas at Conservation Plaza along with restored structures built between 1849 and 1883," says Leanne Cox, Collections Manager at the New Braunfels Conservation Society. "You can also have your hair cut in the historic Buckhorn Barbershop & Museum, which is owned and operated by Conservation Society."

Other notable historic properties in the village include its oldest structure, the 1849 Spiva-Welsch Farm; a 1870-era music studio; and Church Hill School, which was also built in 1870 from hand-hewn limestone and was the first school to be located in the area. The 1865 Forke Store has been restored into a venue that can accommodate up to 100 guests for meetings, reunions, parties and weddings. And the Gerlich-Wagenfuehr Bed and Breakfast welcomes guests to get away from it all in an 1885 home with modern comforts. The village is also a site for community events such as Herb Fiesta, an annual fundraiser for the New Braunfels Conservation Society that takes place in spring. It's a one-day sale that invites local vendors to sell plants, herbs, arts and crafts, and other gifts.

Tours of the village can be arranged by calling 830-629-2943.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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