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A Trip Back in Time to 19th-Century New Braunfels: History Comes Alive

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New Braunfels Conservation Society is one of the last great vestiges of historic Comal County in the Texas Hill Country, including their Old Town – a collection of historic buildings and artifacts showing what life was like in New Braunfels back when the town was founded in 1845. Their mission is to educate residents and visitors alike on the preservation and history of such historic buildings, artifacts, and sites, keeping the area’s exceptional heritage alive and well.

A Trip Back in Time to 19th-Century New Braunfels: History Comes Alive

Photo: Facebook/New Braunfels Conservation Society

A host of restored and period-furnished NBCS properties (circa 1849 through 1881) can be viewed at the link provided here. These structures utilized the “fachwerk” building method in which the bearing construction consists of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal timber beams. The buildings are arranged to form a German village through which visitors of Old Town can get a glimpse of how their forefathers lived.

A Trip Back in Time to 19th-Century New Braunfels: History Comes Alive

Photo: Facebook/Texas History: The Story of Us / Author Jeffrey Kerr

In keeping with their purpose, the NBCS also hosts annual fundraising initiatives designed to draw attention to Old Town. In order to continue the work of restoring and preserving such important pieces of Texas Hill Country history, the NBCS will be holding its annual Kaffee Haus from November 5 – 9 this year. It features a German luncheon in their 1865 General Store! If you can’t attend the event but would still like to support it, orders will be taken at (830) 832-9699. Running from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day, the menu includes a delicious assortment of German potato soup, German wurst, koch kaese, as well as pimento cheese, chicken, and ham sandwiches. Stemming from its initial, humble beginnings in 1966 (then called “Gartenfest”), the NBCS Kaffee Haus has grown over the years to become a mainstay in the Old Town at Conservation Plaza fundraising campaign. From the outset, it was designed as an annual venue that would tie-in with New Braunfels’ Wurstfest, offering potato soup and German music to tourists.

In the five-plus decades, the NBCS has grown this annual fundraiser into an experiential component of not only Wurstfest but of their entire offering. It’s a one-of-a-kind event, giving its guests and patrons the opportunity to partake of a traditional meal in a traditional setting, something the entire family can enjoy. New this year, a “Kindermasken Costumes” exhibit will also be held in conjunction with Wurstfest, from November 2 – 11, located at Old Town at Conservation Plaza. Come on out and see everything this wonderful exhibit has to offer! For more information on this event, visit the NBCS link provided here, follow their Facebook event page, or call  (830) 832-9699.

A Trip Back in Time to 19th-Century New Braunfels: History Comes Alive

Photo: Facebook/Texas Historical Commission

Comal County is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S. In the midst of these booming times, the NBCS works to relocate mid-19th-century buildings which were otherwise slated for demolition. In doing so, they have not only maintained a part of Hill Country heritage, but they’ve allowed for the continued use of off-site locations such as the Ferdinand Lindheimer house, located on the Comal River, belonging to the “Father of Texas Botany.” Visits to this property are by appointment only, but a tour can bring to life a rich sense of the times that Lindheimer lived. This property is also on the National Register of Historic places as well as being a Texas Historical Commission-designated site. Fans of Texas history, ecology, and early settler life are sure to deeply appreciate such an experience. Plus, this is only one of several properties under the New Braunfels Conservation Society’s umbrella!

A Trip Back in Time to 19th-Century New Braunfels: History Comes Alive

Photo: Facebook/New Braunfels Conservation Society

Inviting you to “rediscover the old New Braunfels,” the NBCS curates their properties with an eye for historic authenticity. Allowing for experiential tourism, the Old Town at Conservation Plaza lends itself nicely as the setting for stories of 19th-century New Braunfels heritage and hospitality, right down to a stay in a quaint bed & breakfast! A gallery of their properties is available at the link provided here. Guests to the Plaza can also tour Stefan Haelbig’s music studio, visit an old-fashioned saloon, be seated at a desk in a one-room limestone schoolhouse circa 1870, and have a shave or a haircut in the working barbershop! There’s also a garage on-site which houses a restored 1907 REO automobile, not to mention the unique styles (five in total) of fachwerk construction which can be found in the NBCS buildings. Parts of Old Town at Conservation Plaza can also be rented for events like weddings, family reunions, birthdays, and other parties.

A Trip Back in Time to 19th-Century New Braunfels: History Comes Alive

Photo: Facebook/New Braunfels Conservation Society

There’s never a dull moment at Old Town at Conservation Plaza and its outlying properties. Visitors can see an original Sunday House, a small dwelling which would be a weekend residence for ranchers and farmers residing in remote areas not amenable to commuting for Sunday service. You can even take a gander at heirloom tools in the period Jahn cabinet shop. Regardless of the time of your visit, the NBCS staff will accommodate you with a personalized tour, but for the best experience, a guided tour for yourself or your group can be pre-arranged by calling ahead. Any journey through Texas Hill Country history is amazing in itself, but experiencing the living history that’s reflected at Old Town at Conservation Plaza is a trip you’ll never forget. Inexpensive memberships are available for those wanting a more hands-on experience in keeping our history alive and intact.