By Myra Lee Adams Goff
NEW BRAUNFELS – In old New Braunfels, the Faust family was prominent and so were the homes they built. There are actually five buildings that could be referred to as Faust structures either by direct construction or indirect connection to the Faust family.
Who were these Fausts that built the beautiful homes? The first Faust to appear in New Braunfels history books was Martin Faust, wife Gertrude and two young children who arrived from Prussia in 1850.
Martin Faust’s oldest of five children was Joseph (1844-1924). When the Civil War broke out, Joseph was in school in New Braunfels and he enlisted in the Confederate army even though he was only 17 at the time. Serving in Sibley’s 7th Cavalry Brigade, he was taken prisoner in Louisiana and released in a prisoner exchange.
Joseph returned to New Braunfels, worked as a retail store clerk and in 1871 became a partner in the firm of Tips, Clemens and Faust General Merchants. With Clemens, he organized a banking firm that became the First National Bank in 1890. The building still stands next to the Brauntex Theater. Politically active, Faust was mayor for 10 years (1886-1896), president of the school board, regent for the University of Texas and chairman of the Democratic Party, eventually serving as a state senator.
Now to the home – Joseph Faust built a two-story wooden home at 240 S. Seguin in 1880 (Faust Hotel location). Then, in 1905, another story was added making it a classical revival style home. In 1927, there was local interest in building a hotel, and Walter Faust Sr. (Joseph’s son) headed the committee to find a site. After his father’s death in 1924, he sold the home to Drs. Frederick and Bertha Frueholz. They had the home moved to its present location at 305 S. Seguin (For more on this, visit Sophienburg.com and read the column dated Oct. 18, 2006). This home had a ballroom on the third floor. With that move, the lot became available to build the 63 room Travelers Hotel, later renamed the Faust Hotel.
Walter Faust Sr. was involved in the banking business with his father, Joseph. Walter Faust Sr.’s home had been built immediately between the First Protestant Church and his father’s home (the Faust Hotel). This home now belongs to the church. The home was a wedding gift to Walter and Lottie Faust by Lottie’s father, S.V. Pfeuffer. After the couple divorced, Lottie Faust moved back to the home she grew up in on 170 E. San Antonio St. This classical revival Victorian mansion still stands and is occupied by Brazle and Pfeuffer Law Firm.
Martin Faust’s second son, John, was also in the family banking business, the merchandising business, and the Dittlinger Roller Mills.
John married Emily Seele, Hermann Seele’s daughter, and the Victorian Queen Anne home in the 300 block of W. San Antonio St. was built in 1905 (Ken and Caren Lowery, owners). Emmie Seele Faust, with all her philanthropic endeavors, is especially important to the Sophienburg because she is the one who financed the small library that will be renovated on the Sophienburg grounds.
Martin Faust’s youngest son Peter was part of the Tips, Clemens, and Faust merchandising business along with Hippolyt Dittlinger. In 1886, Peter and John Faust, along with Dittlinger, petitioned the city council to power a grist mill and eventually Dittlinger became sole owner of the Dittlinger Flour Mill.
As for Peter Faust’s home – he built a large wooden home where the American Legion now stands on Coll Street. A large wooden structure, the home deteriorated after Peter Faust’s death. Dr. Fred Frueholz recalls walking by this ramshackle home as late as 1938 before it was torn down. (Visit Sophienburg.com and read the column dated Sept 20, 2008 for the picture of the dedication of the Sophienburg. The home is in the background.)
There’s no doubt about the architectural legacy the Faust family left.