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Love at first sight.
Feeling at home within seconds of an arrival.
This is what Gruene is to me. Let me introduce you!
Gruene is a tiny, Texas town on the outskirts of New Braunfels (between Austin and San Antonio). Within the last month, I’m pretty sure I’ve been told by a handful of different people that I would absolutely LOVE this town and that I must go. So I went. They were right.
Much like other towns in the Hill Country, Gruene was founded by German influence around 1845. The founders of Gruene (Ernest Gruene and his two sons) planted the land with cotton which became a huge cash crop. This also brought businesses and many families to the surrounding area. Businesses included a merchantile store, a cotton gin that was powered by the Guadalupe River (which runs thru town) and the construction of Gruene Hall.
In 1920, Henry Gruene (son) passed away and soon enough the town becgam to crumble and soon the Great Depression hit. All businesses closed, except for Gruene Hall (which has never closed). In the 1970’s, the Gruene estate was sold, new businesses moved in and Gruene became part of the National Register of Historic Places. Without all of this history, Gruene wouldn’t be the town that it is today.
Gruene Hall. I pretty much ran smack dab into the building before I realized what it was. It was “the” building that I came here to see. I LOVE dancehalls just as much as I love Texas towns like this. Give me a dancehall, watertower and an old Texas downtown and I’m pretty much in love. There’s so much character and history.
Gruene Hall is a dancehall. More importantly, it is the oldest dancehall in the state. Lyle Lovett, George Strait, Jerry Lee Lewis, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, those are just a few of the artists who got their start here. If you are more into movies, the dancing scene in ‘Michael’ with John Travolta was filmed here. There is live music here everyday – just another reason to check it out. Honestly, it’s just a place where I could sit down all day and just imagine of all the people who have walked thru the doors and soak up the atmosphere. Amazing.
The walls are just filled with memorabilia of the folks who have come in. I became in awe for a few minutes.
This may sound weird, but I loved the floors. They were so old and you could feel each board move when you walked. Completely filled with character and charm. Absolutely authentic.
(Above) This is actually the outside of the bar. Fenced in, it’s like an adult playground. There’s a basketball hoop, many picnic tables, tons of room to move about. The sides of Gruene Hall are actually just screened, opened windows so you won’t be misisng out on the music that’s playing inside.
(Below) is the main stage. If walls could talk and tell me about the shows that have gone on in here. The acoustics sound great. It’s raw. No offense Billy Bob’s but Gruene Hall is where it’s at!
We arrived right in the middle of Jeff Strahan’s CD release party. This weekend getaway was a birthday getaway and coincidentally, shortly after arriving, Jeff Strahan began saying how it was his son’s birthday. He then asked if there were any other birthdays. Sy immediately began saying “Right here! Right here!” and pointing to me. Jeff Strahan’s attention was caught by someone else (where I’m thinking to myself, “phew!”) then he came back and said there’s a young lady in the back too – what’s your name. Sy says “Diana!”. “Happy Birthday Diana” says Mr. Strahan.
What’s persues? The entire crowd in Gruene Hall, and the band sings Happy Birthday. I have to say, it was pretty darn awesome and a memory that I will not forget. I kind of wish I had it on video but at the same time, I didn’t want to focus on recording it. I just wanted to soak in the moment. It was pretty darn special. Thank you Jeff Strahan!Please check out a video of the “Happy Birthday” song on Jeff Strahan’s You Tube page, here!
Jeff Strahan is an Americana / Blues artist. From what we heard of him live, he is fantastic! We bought his cd “Blue ‘Til I Die”. The cd is great but listening to him live is just phenomenal. I definitely recommend looking up his schedule and checking him out!
Well, Sy finally got me to walk out of Gruene Hall (only to have me turn around and walk back in to buy a cd). Once we made it out, I realized that there’s just too much to explore in the time that we had. So I had to be quick!
Across the street from Gruene Hall, is the “town” of Gruene. We made our way into Gruene Antique Company where Sy found himself some coins (the man likes coins) and this Vermonter found herself something maple related! Who would’ve thought in Texas?!
It’s amazing how small of a world this is and every so often, I am reminded. This was not only a reminder but it was meant to happen to me. 2,000 miles from Vermont, what do I find? Not one, but two old maple containers. I have been surrounded by maple syrup my entire life. I LOVE it as much as Texans love their steaks. This wasn’t the most interesting part in finding these. If you notice, the container on the left has the name of H. W. Russell & Sons. The name sounded familiar but I wanted to call my dad and tell him of my find. Sure enough (it shouldn’t be a surprise) my dad knows H.W. Russell & Sons. Small world. (My dad’s been in the maple syrup business for a LONG time. It’s not really a surprise that he knows them.)
Some other finds in town included the General Store, more antique shops, wineries and miscellaneous shops. The Guadalupe River is nearby as well if you wanted to float the river. Generally, it’s a tourist town but it’s one hell of a town. If only I had an chair that I could park on the corner and just sit and try to soak it all in all day!
Love those watertowers!
Our meeting was far too short Gruene, Texas! I’m already thinking about when we can meet again! I can’t wait!