THE HISTORY OF GRUENE
1845 - 1974
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.
Henry D. built houses in various styles -- a Victorian cottage (now Lone Star), a large brick home, and a frame house (now Gruene Haus)
for the foreman of his farm. The first mercantile store (now Gruene General Store) was built in 1878 and a cotton gin (now Gristmill
River Restaurant and Bar) powered by the Guadalupe River was added soon after. Further construction during this profitable time
included a dance hall and saloon (Gruene Hall), which became the center of the community's social life.
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.
1974 - Today
Today, Gruene is once again a thriving community, but for decades it was little more than a ghost town. This changed the day that Pat
Molak, frustrated with big-city life, wandered into town and began to breathe life back into this piece of Texas history.
Molak purchased Gruene Hall in 1975. A few unavoidable repairs were made to the Hall, but little else was necessary. Left uncorrupted,
the 6,000 square-foot, open-air dance hall became a virtual magnet, a starting point for many of Texas' up-and-coming performers, and
once again, the heart of Gruene.
With the help of his friend Mary Jane Nalley, he worked to preserve the authentic, turn-of-the-century look and feel of Gruene by
purchasing and repairing several of the town's most notable structures and transforming them into thriving businesses. These
developments seemed to rekindle the spark of Gruene, and soon the town's familiar charm began to shine again.
Gruene itself has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and many of the buildings that were rescued by Molak and Nalley
have been awarded a Texas medallion from the Texas Historical Commission. It has also been recognized by the Texas travel industry as a
premiere attraction for visitors, which is no surprise to its merchants and guests.
Even with the remarkable growth of this once sleepy little town, the main focus of Gruene is, and continues to be, bona fide Texas.
Everything from the wares they sell to the music they play speaks to Molak and Nalley's commitment to preserving the authenticity of
Gruene and providing its guests with an experience that has the signature seal of the Lone Star State.