By Myra Lee Adams Goff
A house at 457 W. San Antonio St. will open shortly as a Bed and Breakfast. The house is referred to by old-time New Braunfelsers as the Karbach House. But it didn’t start out as the Karbach House. The house was built for George and Hulda Eiband in 1906.
Family tradition says that the house had an interesting background. Hulda was the sister of Emmie Seele Faust, both of whom were daughters of Hermann Seele. The sisters supposedly had a friendly competition going between them. Townspeople in those days were aware of this competition because talk flies in a small town.
Emmie Seele married John Faust in 1905 and they built the Victorian home in the 300 block of W. San Antonio St, complete with wooden columns and wooden wraparound porch. It was a showplace. When Hulda Seele married George Eiband, she wanted a bigger house but definitely not a Victorian. Hulda’s house would be bigger and would be built in the new style of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, with high ceilings, brick columns, terrazzo porch, straight lines, lots of glass windows and 12 ft. ceilings. One thing is certain – both houses are substantial enough to remain standing. After Hulda Eiband’s death, George Eiband died in 1936, with no heirs, leaving the house to his brothers.
Soon after George’s death, the home was sold to Dr. Hylmar Karbach and wife Katherine Taylor Karbach in 1938. They bought the home from the Eiband estate.
The house now became a child-centered home. The Karbach children were 10-year-old Hylmar Jr., six-year-old Kathleen and four-year-old Jo. Carole was born two years after the family moved into the house.
Hylmar Karbach Sr. descended from pioneer families here in New Braunfels. His father and mother, Julius and Hedwig Karbach owned a general store in Maxwell, Texas. This is where Hylmar was born and after a move to Lockhart, he graduated from Lockhart High School. Acquaintances in Lockhart say that as a teenager Hylmar “pushed the limit”. Having a motorcycle he once rode his bike up the front steps of the Courthouse, drove through the building and out the back steps.
He was then off to the University of Texas and then the U.T. Medical School in Galveston. It was here that he met S.M.U graduate Katherine Taylor who was chief dietician at the Med. School. Hylmar did his internship in San Francisco and he sent for Katherine to join him and she did.
About 1925 the couple moved to New Braunfels and he went into medical partnership with Dr. A.J. Hinman. Their combined offices were above the Peerless Drug Store, where the present Dancing Pony store is now located.
And then came World War II. Hylmar joined the U.S. Navy as a Lt. Commander and later became a Commander. In the Pacific he was on the ship, USS Briscoe. Incidentally, the family named the family dog “Briscoe”. In 1946, he was anchored in Tokyo Bay when the peace treaty was signed. This was the highlight of his naval career.
All through the war, the family stayed in New Braunfels. After the war, Dr. Karbach resumed his practice in New Braunfels and he died in 1959.
No doubt, the house helped hold the family together during and after the war. Many memories were made in this house for the Karbach family. Daughter Kathleen Karbach Kinney remembers the fun times in the large house. The children’s bedrooms and a gigantic playroom were upstairs. She remembers how at Christmastime a tree would mysteriously appear upstairs and brother Hylmar would convince his sisters that he heard Santa Claus on the roof. A wide staircase led from the top story to the rest of the house below with its spacious living room, dining room and sunroom.
Another favorite memory was how Dr. Karbach, although he wasn’t a veterinarian, would treat wounded and sick animals that he found along the way. On two different occasions Kathleen raised a skunk in the large basement of the house. All went well until Kathleen and her friend Ellie Luckett took the skunk down the rapids at Camp Warnecke. It was just too much for the skunk.
Since Kathleen and I were in school together, all the way from Kindergarten to high school, I also have some memories of the house and the activities there take me back to a gigantic slumber party for what seemed to me, hundreds of girls. We never “slumbered”. We walked downtown in our “baby doll” pajamas (yes, that’s what they were called) to the Plaza where we sang and danced in the gazebo. We walked on the railroad track back to the Karbach house. We must have been 14 or 15 years old. “Those were the days, my friend; we thought they’d never end”. But they did.
Another memory was of a handful of seventh grade girls calling themselves the “Eight Date Baits”. The “eight” part fits but the “date baits” part was only wishful thinking. We decided that the boys in our class had no manners. We sent postcard invitations to the boys that we thought needed the most rehabilitation. We invited them to a party at the Karbach House where we intended to tie them up and read a book of manners to them. We decided to keep our intentions a secret, but like all secrets, the word got out and the boys didn’t show up. They had to grow up without our help.
The Karbach House, with its New Braunfels Historic Landmark Property designation, is welcoming new owners. The house will, no doubt, provide experiences for those who stay there. It’s that kind of house. The Bed and Breakfast should be open soon.