Gruene Named One of the Most Charming Small Towns in America

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The Travel Channel has honored Gruene, Texas, naming it one of the “most charming small towns in America.” The Travel Channel is headquartered in Maryland and owned by Discovery Inc. They recently compiled a list of “hidden gems” and identified the quaint historic district, situated in the Texas Hill Country, as one of the most charming. It’s the only Texas town to receive mention.

German farmers first settled the town of Gruene in the 1840s. Cotton farming brought 20 to 30 families to the area to settle and began making it a prosperous little town. By the early 1900s, it had grown through many family business developments. Sadly, the wrath of the boll weevil (feeding on cotton buds and flowers), followed by the Great Depression proved to be too much for the area. After World War II, when highway construction bypassed the town completely, what remained of its population left the area.

Gruene Named One of Most Charming Small Towns in America

Photo: Flickr/Nicolas Henderson

In 1974, Chip Kaufman, a University of Texas student, rediscovered the town while kayaking the Guadalupe River. Floating to what was then known as The Gruene Crossing public takeout, he caught a glimpse of a water town on the hill and decided to look around. What he discovered was the remaining town buildings, constructed in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Being an architectural student, he was amazed at their hidden significance and brought them to the attention of the Texas Historical Commission.

Gruene Named One of Most Charming Small Towns in America

Photo: Wikimedia/Billy Hathorn

It was through Kaufman’s efforts that the Gruene historical district became what it is today, saved from a future of razed history and new housing developments. The area was restored, and within a short time, Gruene Hall was once again attracting crowds. The historic district of Gruene, with a population of 20, has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. “Today, residents and visitors shop at local boutiques and the Old Gruene Market Days,” the Travel Channel stated. It’s a part of the Texas Hill Country that will never be forgotten, thanks to Kaufman, his passion, and the dreams of this state’s early settlers.