By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Once upon a time there were two large Victorian houses sitting side by side on Seguin Ave. next to the First Protestant Church. These two houses belonged to Joseph Faust and his son Walter Faust. Walter Faust’s house was right next to the church and it still stands there. Joseph Faust’s house was right next to Walter’s. That house no longer exists. Well, that’s not exactly true because it was sold and moved a little way down the street. It seems impossible that the large house could be moved, but it was.
Before we get to that almost impossible story, let’s look at the history of hotels in New Braunfels. Hotels, earlier called inns have been popular forever. A traveler getting a good night’s sleep, food, drink and good fellowship was essential to a mobile population. The first inn known in New Braunfels was that of Count Henkel von Donnersmark located across the street from the present McAdoos Restaurant. Von Donnersmark catered to those immigrants newly arrived who had money to spend and still nowhere to stay. Supposedly this inn did a big liquor business. It even became the post office.
Soon to follow were inns on the Main Plaza such as the Millett Hotel on the property where the courthouse is located. Also the Guadalupe Hotel which still stands. The Guadalupe became the Schmitz Hotel in 1855. This was the most well-known hotel because it was also the stopping place of the pony express.
Down East San Antonio St. was the Comal Hotel or Eggeling Hotel built in 1899 (Prince Solms Inn). By the time trains came to NB, passengers were picked up at the train station and taken to the hotel.
Now we get to the granddaddy of them all, the Faust Hotel. What prompted the building of this big downtown hotel was interest in attracting the early 1900s tourist. Paul Jahn with the Chamber of Commerce reported that a committee had been formed to promote the idea of a hotel. The New Braunfels Hotel Company Inc. organized and it was decided to form a stock company of local citizens.
At the first meeting of stockholders, Emil Fischer was elected president, Walter Faust, vice-president, and B.W. Nuhn, secretary-treasurer. An offer was made by the Joseph Faust Estate to place a hotel on the Joseph Faust property where his house was. It was moved off the lot and sold to the Drs. Frueholz. It is cattycornered to the church where it still stands. The story of that move can be found in the Sophienburg.com column on 11-30-2010. The Walter Faust house was eventually purchased by the First Protestant Church.
Although primarily an agricultural community, because of the rivers, New Braunfels was also tourist town. With the coming of the railroad, the town was becoming more well known. After a severe drought in the early 1920s, the community recovered and saw a need for hotels. Salesmen called drummers were flocking to town to sell their goods. They not only needed a room to stay in, but also a temporary room to set up their products. This practice was very important to the mercantile business. The New Braunfels Hotel Company would build a hotel called the Travelers Hotel.
My husband, Glyn, grew up living in the Goff Hotel in Kenedy and remembers the salesmen that stopped at the only hotel between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. The 65 room hotel was owned by his grandparents, P.R. and Ida Goff. Stories about this hotel are very similar to the stories of the Faust and they were both built about the same time.
Bids for the four-story Travelers Hotel were requested and the total was to be $120,000 for the building only. Architect was Harvey P. Smith of San Antonio and contractor was Walter Sippel.
After completion in 1929, the hotel was leased to Nagel & Wuest of San Antonio for 15 years. About the time of opening, Nagel & Wuest who agreed to pay for some of the furnishings could not pay for what they had agreed. Since several conventions were already scheduled, First National Bank of New Braunfels agreed to pay the suppliers until they would be reimbursed. That never happened. A grand opening celebration was held Oct. 12, 1929 in spite of the trouble. It was quite an affair with over 2,000 people attending. Who didn’t show was the governor, Dan Moody, even after sending in his RSVP accepting.
A few years after opening, the hotel was turned back to the Hotel Company ending the contract with the Nagel and Wuest. They released the building with all bills pending. The Board turned down future lease offers because they wanted to sell the building.
Upon the death of Walter Faust, Hanno Faust was elected president of the company and he was given full power to operate the hotel in 1933. The hotel was renamed the Faust Hotel after the Faust family. Milton Dietz was the executor of the will of Walter Faust. In 1946, Dietz became president of the company and also became general manager of the Faust Hotel. In 1947, the hotel was purchased by local businessman Arlon Krueger who retained ownership until 1977. Hotel businesses everywhere were being replaced by motels that were more accessible and less expensive. By this time the grand old building was showing its age. The exterior had blackened, windows had broken, squirrels had moved in, and water had damaged the inside.
In 1977, Jackson and Houser purchased the building out of an interest in old hotels. They began the restoration process. Over time with several owners and several restorations, the once-beautiful hotel returned. Eight years ago, the hotel was sold to Vance and Priscilla Hinton.
The outdoor patio had been closed and now houses the Faust Brewing Co. while maintaining the 1920s atmosphere. Brewmaster Ray Mitteldorf who had extensive experience with several other breweries was hired to brew the beer. Making beer takes time and everything brewed in the Faust has to be sold there and can’t be sold at another outlet. This will be taken care of soon, as the Faust is opening the Faust Brewing Company on the corner of Butcher and Castell. Bottled beer and kegs will be manufactured and sold. An outdoor beergarten is planned to open in the future. The owners and brewmaster knew that something had to be done to manufacture more of their popular beer.
The historic Faust Hotel with its brewery and “brew-pub” food with a “German flair” will continue to be open to the public and “what’s old is new and what’s new is old,” so the saying goes. Look for details of the opening of their additional location.
The Faust Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, and is a New Braunfels Historic Landmark.