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Gruene Hall

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Wikipedia:

Gruene Hall, was built in 1878 and is located in the historical town of Gruene, Texas (now a part of New Braunfels), and bills itself as “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.” Gruene Hall has hosted such acts as Willie Nelson, George Strait, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Hal Ketchum, Gregg Allman  and many more. It was also used as a set for the film Michael, starring John Travolta.    Gruene Hall has been run under the proprietorship of Pat Molak and co-owner Mary Jane Nalley for 35 years. Booking agent of 30 years, Tracie Ferguson is credited with starting the original music approach that has made Gruene Hall an iconic  music venue, helping to jump start the careers of Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Hal Ketchum, Bruce Robison, Nanci Griffith, Ryan Bingham, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams  and many others.

Gruene Hall, located in Gruene, Texas, is one of the oldest functioning dance halls in the state. Largely a tourist attraction today, Gruene (originally known as Goodwin) was settled in the mid-nineteenth century by German farming families. As the head of one of these families, Ernst Gruene moved with his wife and two sons to the area northeast of New Braunfels in 1872. The second of his two sons, Henry (Heinrich) D. Gruene, firmly established the family’s presence in the area by acquiring enough cotton-producing land to support between twenty and thirty tenant-farm families. In 1878 he built the dance hall known today as Gruene Hall. Before his death in 1920 he built the town’s first mercantile store, cotton gin, lumberyard, and bank. He also provided land for a school and served for a time as postmaster.

Henry Gruene’s Dance Hall provided area residents a place for socializing and offered hard-working farm families a diversion from their difficult lives. A sign hanging over the bar proclaimed “Den feinsten Schnaps, das beste Bier, bekommt man bei dem Heinrich hier” (The best liquor, the best beer, you get at Henry’s here). In addition to serving both “the best beer” and “dime-a-shot whiskey,” and providing a venue for polka bands and square dancing, the hall often was used by traveling salesmen for displaying their wares. Gruene Hall also became a popular location for Sängerfest (German singing festivals), high school graduation ceremonies, political elections, and both dog and badger fights. During Prohibition,  Henry Gruene hung a sign in the bar that read, “Only Near Beer is Sold Here. Real Beer is Sold Near Here.” {Source: Handbook of Texas Online}

In the early 1970s developers planned to raze the town in order to build new homes. While visiting the dormant community in 1974, Cheryle Fuller began her own efforts to save the town through devising a development plan and conducting a historical survey. In 1975 Gruene was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Two years later, San Antonio residents Bill Gallagher and Pat Molak used a $20,000 loan to purchase a number of local buildings, including the hall, and Molak, along with Mary Jane Nalley, began the work of preservation and renovations of the buildings. Their plans for the 6,000-square-foot hall involved very little structural change. They insisted on maintaining the vintage signs, stage, dance floor and forty-eight-star United States flag. {Handbook of Texas Online}

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About hopeseguin

Who am I? I'm still discovering just who I am, I suppose. A. Powell Davis writes that "Life is just a chance to grow a soul."

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