Mansions to The Oldest Dance Hall in Texas

Trip Start May 31, 2009
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Trip End Jun 05, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Texas
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's another full day. There is just too much to do and so little time to do it.

First on the list is Guenther House, owners of the Pioneer Flour Mills. The company was founded in 1851 nine miles west of Fredericksburg on the banks of Live Oak Creek by Carl Hilmar Guenther, a millwright who had been accepted into the guild of master millwrights in Europe in 1844.
In 1859 Guenther purchased a mill site adjacent to the King William Historic District on the banks of the San Antonio River, which has been Pioneer headquarters ever since. Guenther moved to the United States from Weissenfels, Saxony, in 1848, and traveled across the country for three years looking for a place to settle. In 1851 he sailed into Indianola, Texas, and traveled to San Antonio and on to Fredericksburg, where he was struck by the lack of facilities to mill grains (wheat, corn, and rye) grown in the area

A small mini-musuem is on site...and FREE! The house is now an indoor and outdoor restaurant. Best pastries in town!  

This area is know as the King William Historic District. The houses here will knock your socks off. Only one, the Edward Steeves House is open for tours currently. The other will open in the late summer or early fall.

I do hate it when your tour guide tells you that no photos are permited in the building. So off goes my camera as we tour the Edward Steves House. My finger is soo begging to push the shutter release. This house is just overly impressive with it's woodwork. The furniture has been donated by individuals and is similar to the period that the Steeves lived here. Many of the family has donated items such as the original china.

Steves owned a large lumber and prosperous lumber company that is still in business today. The central staircase is a showpiece in its self. It, along with many other quailty pieces in the house were purchased from exhibitors at the 1876 World's Fair in Philadelphia.  Each step had 2 balusters and the hand railing was designed to fit a woman's hand at the top, and a larger area beneath for a mans.

His wife, who I can't remember her name was very active in designing their home. She was also had an indoor swimming pool built behind the house.
This was the first indoor swimmig pool in San Antonio.
  
This three-story Victorian French Second Empire-style home is just over amazing. The $6 per person was well worth it.

Casa Navarro. This is a State Historic Site, the home of Jose Antonio Navarro who was a prominent merchant, rancher and statesman. The site is in downtown San Antonio.

Jose Antonio Navarro was an influential political figure during the momentous 55 years (1810-1865) when Texas' destiny was forged. 
Navarro served in the Texas legislatures under Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the state of Tesas. In addition, he served on the committies that wrote the first two Texas constitutions in 1836 and 1845. He was one of only two native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.

We had a "private tour."

The construction of the buildings are as interesting as Navarro's private life. There is some original furnature in the buildings. The store and house are documented in the Historic American Building Survey (1936 and 1963.

We're heading out of town...hoping to cool off.  95 degree temperatures and I swear the humidity is 97 percent. Mabye out of town we can cool down.

First stop is The Aquarena Center.  28 Miles south of Austin, located on the Balcones Fault, a fracture in the earth's crust, that formed the San Marcos springs and river millions of years ago the amazing San Marcos Springs discharge 150-300 million gallons of water daily.Thirteen thousand years ago, people came to this place and never felt the urge to leave.
 
Texas State University - San Marcos purchased the aging Aquarena Springs Resort in 1994 and began transforming the old theme park into a non-profit nature center. Today Aquarena Center is an environmental learning center dedicated to protecting, conserving and educating the public on the important role that water plays in everyone's daily life   The Critical Habitat of the San Marcos River is home to five endangered species. This unique habitat of limestone cleansed spring water has a constant temperature of 72 degrees year round. The species living in the lake are endangered because of the growing population of central Texas and the increased demands made on the Edwards Aquifer.

Our onboard guide, and steerer of the boat is a student at the University, majoring in marine biology. He tells us that this is documented as the oldest human habitat in Texas and possibly Mexico.

This is NOT a hi-tech ride. You basically sit facing the glass bottom of the boat. Then the guide steers us to areas where we see the springs that pump up all hot that water. Every so often a swimming turgle pases unerneath the glass. Or some fish.

According to fossil records, Aquamarina is one of the oldest continually inhabited locations on the continent and is the second-largest artesian springs inthe Western United States.

Gary and I liked it because it was informative, and you get to sit back and chill out.
The kids liked looking thru the glass. Well, so did we.
Is it worth it?  $7.00 a person to float over pristine waters and watch sea turtles and fish swim beneath you. Yep, I do believe so.   

Then Gruene. It's pronounced "green" just like the color.
 
This is a unique old town,  known for being the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas. The false-front dance hall was built in 1878. Wood planked floors, old wood ceiling, and cheap drinks. You're surrounded by photos of every entertainer that has performed here. From Garth Brooks to Merle Haggard...he's been here a few times, and is sold out for this week. The bar area is in front, and spills over to the outside during peak times. The "show area" is behind the bar in the dance hall. Except for some upgrades for the stage area, and newer taps at the bar, not much has changed. 

I love sitting in history, and this is just the spot to do it. 

The town is a mix of quirkey shops all in the old original buildings.  A combo winery - with a tasting area and a place to buy bottles of beer is a popular spot   

An old corrigated metal sided building houses an outdoor company. I was in shopping heaven. REI, Patagonia, Columbia. YIPIEE! This is my type of vacation souvineers.

The best spot in town on a hot day is the General Store which has hand scooped ice cream. We found it without any problem. And the old "soda fountain" chairs.  There are so many different tourist and regualr items in this store that my head was spinning.

Best place to stay? My choice is Gruene Mansion Inn B&B. Unique individually decorated rooms and most of them have a porch. 

We were too late to go tubing down the river.. The problem is the river is low due to the long drought, and so the 2 hour float turns into a 3 1/2 hour to 4 hour float. I really had this on my must do list, but now I have an excuse to come back here.  
   


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