You’ve probably driven by one of the most historical salvation sites in the Hill Country and didn’t even know it was there. If you’ve lived in the area since the 1960s, you may even recognize some of the buildings at The New Braunfels Conservation Society’s Conservation Plaza.
Back in the 60s with all the growth and prosperity, many old buildings were torn down to make way for newer, more modern ones.
In 1964, a group known as a bunch of “crazy people who saved old buildings” created the New Braunfels Conservation Society and rescued their first building by restoring the Lindheimer house on its original location in downtown New Braunfels. Lindheimer was the Father of Texas Botany, a newspaper editor during the Civil War, and has been given credit for his part in New Branufels being located by the Comal Springs. When the Lindheimer project was complete in 1967, the group began to receive offers for other old buildings if they would move the structures off the property.
In 1972, three and a half acres were donated by Bill and Nan Dillan as a permanent site for the old rescued buildings and over the years, the 19th century German settlement village has grown to 18 buildings located at the Conservation Plaza.
Among these structures, you’ll see the School-Peters house (1855), now the NBCS office, where you’ll receive a friendly greeting and learn everything you ever wanted to know about the project from Executive Director Martha Rehler. Martha’s love of her job shows as she takes you on a tour of the old homes and describes the walls, floors, windows, furnishings, and history of all the buildings.
Some of the other restored and appropriately furnished buildings on site are the Baetge House (1852); Spiva-Welch Barn (1849); Forke Store (1865); Haellbig Music Studio (1870); Star Exchange and Billard Room (1865); Jahn Cabinet Shop (1885); Reo Garage housing a 1907 REO; Freiheit School (1881); part of the Werner-Sacco House (1859) and looking at the Carl Friedrich Baetge house (1805-1883), one would never know it was built 26 miles from town, dismantled, rebuilt and restored at the plaza.
In addition to the 18 buildings in the village, other buildings saved by the organization on site in New Braunfels are the historic Gerlich-Wagenfuehr Bed and Breakfast, located on San Antonio Street. Ferdinand Jakob Lindheimer’s fachwerk home (1801-1879), is located on Comal St. The construction of these buildings is worth a visit to see bricks that were fired or adobe sun dried, the field stone, the cut limestone blocks, rammed earth and daub and wattle-interwoven sticks overlaid with mud, the hand forged hinges, the pine and walnut floors, and cypress shingles - a far cry from construction of today.
Looking for a place for your next event or a unique setting for a wedding? The Forke Store will hold up to 100 guests and the Rose Conservtory and Gazebo are available for family or organizational events.
November 5th through the 9th, enjoy famous German potato soup, authentic German Wurst and cheese sandwiches, chicken and ham salad sandwiches, and homemade cookies, pies, and cakes at the Kaffe Haus, an annual fund raiser for the organization. Serving begins at 10:30 am through 2:00 pm. You can call 830-832-9699 and order yours to go.
If you can’t make it to the site anytime soon, check out their video for a look at all the history and architecture you’ll enjoy when you visit the village.
See their website, newbraunfelsconservaton.org, for more information, event schedule and video. The village is located at 1300 Church Hill Drive, behind Church Hill Middle School off Hwy 46 in New Braunfels. 830-832-9699.