Don't see Red, see Gruene!

                               Published in the La Vernia News on February 28, 2013. 


                 Need A Day Out?  Don't see Red, see Gruene!

Everyday Journeys  

       Harry & Linda Kaye Perez

      If you are looking to spend the day shopping in stores like the Dancing Bear, Tipsy Gypsy, Fickle Pickles, or Pookie Jane’s; dine at some fabulous restaurants such as the Gristmill or the Gruene River Grill; or spend the night surrounded by Texas history at the Gruene Mansion Inn, then Gruene, just a 48-mile drive from LaVernia, is the place for you.

                 Back in the day

      Gruene started out as a settlement of German American farmers in 1872 and was originally named Goodwin. Because the town was right on the stagecoach route between Austin and San Antonio, the existing mercantile store thrived and stimulated additional commercial growth. Then came the International-Great Northern Railroad in the 1880s and the town took the name Gruene, after one of the founders. By 1900, it had become a prominent cotton ginning and shipping center for area cotton farmers. The cotton gin was powered by the nearby Guadalupe River. The town had a school, a dance hall that provided socializing for its citizens, and many stately homes, most built by Henry D. Gruene.


       In the 1920s, things changed drastically. First, the cotton crops were destroyed by the boll weevil, followed by the Great Depression. The final dagger was in the 1940s when a new highway by-passed the town. By 1950 Gruene was a ghost town – all except the dance hall, which continued to operate.

       In 1975, the rebirth of Gruene began when a stockbroker named Pat Molak was looking to change careers, to get out of the rat race. Seeing potential in the old 6,000 square foot open-air dance hall, he purchased it. After just minimal repairs, Gruene Hall reopened and became a magnet for up-and-coming talent. Live music was the key. Some of those who have performed at Gruene Hall are Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb, Little Richard, Lyle Lovett, George Strait, Jerry Jeff Walker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

                                  New Growth

       Today, Gruene is no longer considered a town, but is designated as an historic district located within the city limits of New Braunfels. The authenticity of the area has been preserved and most of the buildings are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original mercantile, built in 1878, is now the Gruene General Store, selling Texas-made products and souvenirs, sweet and spicy jalapeno jellies, homemade fudge, Texas music and antique signs. The old-fashioned soda fountain serves up ice cream and coffee.


       The Gruene Mansion Inn was once the Victorian home of Henry D. Gruene, who built this grand town. The Gristmill Restaurant housed the original cotton gin. And, standing 100 feet above it all, is the original water tower built in the early 1900s, proudly bearing the name GRUENE.

      There are four antique shops, a huge pottery store, and a contemporary art gallery. The Grapevine offers a large selection of Texas, New World and German wines. The Great Texas Pecan Candy Company is where “you just can’t help yourself.”

                      Drift or Dance

       There is more to do in Gruene than just shopping and eating. How about a float down the Guadalupe River on a warm South Texas day, with the help of numerous outfitters just across the river from the Gristmill Restaurant, or bring your Texas attitude and your dancing boots and enjoy some great live music at the oldest dance hall in Texas. See the adjacent photo of the Gruene Mansion Inn, once the home of Henry D. Gruene.



                       SPECIAL EVENTS:

For general information:

Come and Taste I t- Wine, Music                                3rd Thursday February-December


Market Days,  3rd weekend February-November         1st weekend December (Christmas Market)

17th Annual American Music Jam                              May 19, 2013  (830) 629-5077

Gruene 10K  September 13, 2013

 27th Annual Music & Wine Fest                           October 10-13, 2013

 21st Annual Texas Clay Festival                          October 26-27, 2013             

                                                                                                            A complete list of events at Gruene Hall can be viewed at

   © Harry Perez 2012