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New Braunfels (Comal County)

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The seat of Comal County, New Braunfels was founded in 1845, the earliest of the German immigrant communities sponsored by the Adelsverein, the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. The society was formed by twenty-one German noblemen in 1842 to establish a new Germany, taking advantage of land grants offered by the Republic of Texas to contractors who would settle them. Prince Carl zu Solms-Braunfels, commissioner general of the Adelsverein, chose this site near the intersection of the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. The town plan by Nicolaus Zink is oriented around an open square that straddles the intersection of Seguin Avenue and San Antonio Street. Half-acre town lots were intended for small houses, with ten-acre farm lots on the edge of town set aside for agricultural and livestock activities. The most distinguishing feature of the town plan was the broad central street that served as the marketplace. The central town square was and is kept vacant, with the county courthouse facing it on the west side.

Early houses were built using fachwerk,or half-timber construction, replacing the mixture of grass, mud, animal hair, dung, and mud daub as used in their homeland with adobe nogging or in some cases rubble and cut limestone. The result is a house form that could be labeled “German-Texan.” These houses are also much smaller than those in Germany, usually one room deep to allow for cross ventilation, with a centrally placed chimney stack, rather than an end wall stack, fitted with a stove.

The German culture of the town's population was perhaps best expressed by the existence of a German language newspaper, the Neu-Braunfelzer Zeitung,which appeared only in German until 1957. The proximity of the town to San Antonio and the commercial corridor along I-35, and the attendant development pressure, has led to the loss of a number of early buildings, with New Braunfels becoming a commuter suburb of San Antonio.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.

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