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History of the Moeller House

PHOTO CAPTION: The Moeller House at 212 W. Austin Street ca. 1970, when it was designated a Texas Recorded Historic Landmark. It was built solely by Johann Georg Moeller, completed in 1866.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Moeller House at 212 W. Austin Street ca. 1970, when it was designated a Texas Recorded Historic Landmark. It was built solely by Johann Georg Moeller, completed in 1866.

By Tara V. Kohlenberg —

New Braunfels historians have told us that the first immigrants arrived with very little in the way of belongings. And, unlike today’s new arrivals in New Braunfels, our founding ancestors had a lot to do before settling into a house. They had to secure materials (chop trees for lumber, make mud bricks, cut stone) to be able to build their own places to live. We are very fortunate to live in a place where so many of those early homes still exist. One of my favorites stands on a lot at 212 W. Austin Street in Comaltown, exactly where it has stood for over 150 years.

The story? It begins with people making life-changing decisions to build a new life, sell everything, move across the Atlantic Ocean and settle on the Fisher Miller Grant in the Republic of Texas. Like many, that is exactly what Johann Georg Moeller did.

Georg Moeller left Bremen aboard the ship Weser, arranged by Henry Fisher for the San Saba Colonization Company, in May of 1844. Once he arrived in Galveston in July 1844, he learned that the Fisher & Miller land grant had never materialized. He was stuck along with several others from his hometown of Michelsrombach, Hesse. Moeller did eventually end up in New Braunfels in late 1845.

Meanwhile, on similar track, Johann Peter Hoffmann boarded the Garrone, arranged by the Adelsverein, with his wife and children. They arrived in Galveston in December of 1844 and finally reached New Braunfels with the First Founders. Mr. Hoffmann died shortly thereafter, leaving Elizabeth Hoffmann to fend for herself and her two children, Charlotta and Alex. (Soap operas got nothing on true history!).

So fast forward to 1848, when Georg Moeller and widow Elizabeth Hoffmann married. Their instant family of four eventually totaled seven with the addition of twin sons, Franz and Johann, in 1849 and Louis in 1852.

The Moellers settled in Comaltown. At one time, they owned/farmed most of the Landa Estates area. Georg Moeller began building my favorite limestone house in 1859. He built it all by himself. The beautiful two-story is constructed of hand-cut hard limestone that was quarried locally. All the walls are constructed of hard limestone, cut into squares and rectangles with stone lintels across the top of each window.

The wood beams and roof rafters are of hand-hewn cedar logs and the floors are hand-hewn cypress planks. Although the outside walls are perfectly square and the floors and ceilings are perfectly level, there are no two rooms the same size, no two walls the same thickness and no two rooms with the same size floorboards. The walls range from 8 to 18 inches in thickness. The original house had two staircases: one leading to the basement, the other to the second floor. Each wood tread of the steps going upstairs is smoothly fitted into grooves in the supporting side boards. No nails were used. The stairs to the basement are solid rock. It is truly amazing that no cement was used to put the stones together. In some places, it is said to be plain black dirt mixed with straw; and in others, a mortar made of sand and lime was used.

The limestone house, begun in 1859, took 6 years to build. The family lived in a modest home where Our Lady of Perpetual Help is now located while their limestone home was being built. It was finally completed in 1866. Sadly, Johann Georg Moeller died in 1867, just weeks after the family moved into the new home.

In 1881, ownership of the house changed. Okay, this is where it gets sticky. Pay attention to the “OE” and “UE” here. The home was sold by the Johann Georg M”oe”ller family to Johannes M”ue”ller, known as “Mueller-Hanas” in 1881. He owned a freight company. Mueller-Hanas was a very interesting guy, but I will save that for another day. He raised his family in the home. Johannes Mueller died in 1908 followed by his wife in 1909. Oddly enough, Emma, daughter of Johannes Mueller, married Henry Moeller, the grandson of Johann Georg Moeller.

In 1910, the home was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Albert Nowotny. Their son Jerome, who was born in the home, bought it in 1947. He eventually built a very successful tourist attraction/restaurant around it — Bavarian Village. By coincidence, Jerome Nowotny’s son, Lionel, married Mary Lou Mueller, a great-granddaughter of Johannes Mueller, second owner of the house. The Moeller House is now owned by Schlitterbahn Waterparks/Cedar Fair.

There were many descendants of the Moellers in the area and many were builders. Most of the structures are still standing as they are very well built like the Moeller House. The following is a list just to name a few: Garden Street Bridge, Mission Valley Mill Dam, Old Fire Station, Richter Buildings, Wagenfuehr House, Celebrations, Comal Flower Shop, The Black Whale Saloon, Lamar School, Seele Parish House, Johnson Furniture, Main Plaza Gazebo, Gerlich Home (Borchers Office), Fischer House (next to the Civic Center), Corner Coffee Shop, Old New Braunfels High School, Citizens Ice House (Conway’s), numerous curbs and sidewalks, and hundreds of homes in the area and surrounding counties. They truly lived well-built lives.

The Moeller House became a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1970; however, at some point the marker was removed. A new marker was sponsored by a Johann Georg Moeller descendant, Myra Lee Adams Goff.

The Moeller House Marker Rededication ceremony will take place Sunday, March 3, 4:00 p.m. at 212 W. Austin Street. The public is invited.

Sources: Sophienburg Museum & Archives; Comal County Historical Commission.