By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Besides the Plaza Hotel on the Main Plaza, another grand hotel was built around the turn of the century, the Comal Hotel (now Prince Solms Inn). What was the reason for more large hotels in the little town of New Braunfels? Hotels are built to fill a need. The coming of the railroad bringing visitors to the quaint little town, with its Landa Park, was actually the big boost to tourism. At one time Emilie and Theodore Eggeling ran the Plaza Hotel on the Main Plaza and decided that a second large hotel was needed. Let’s go back to the roots of the family that made this second hotel possible.
Immigrant Joseph Klein built a little German house in New Braunfels in 1852. That house still stands but not where it was built. It started its 115-year-old life on the property where the Prince Solms Inn is now located on the corner of San Antonio and Market Sts.
Joseph Klein, a single 26-year-old bachelor from Germany first lived with his parents, Stephan and Margaretha Klein who had built their small house next to the Naegelin Bakery on Seguin St. in 1845. This house is also still standing.
Stephan Klein helped his son Joseph construct his corner lot house on San Antonio St. Joseph married widow Johanna Freitag and they moved into the new house.
William and Friedricke Kuse
Records show that Joseph sold his house in 1859 to William Kuse who became a naturalized a citizen the next year. His family consisted of his wife Friedricke, his ten-year-old son Carl, a daughter Emilie, aged six and a son Friedrich, one year old. All the children were born in Prussia except Friedrich. Daughter Emilie would have a big impact on New Braunfels.
Theodore and Emily Eggeling
William Kuse was a shoemaker and had set up his shop in the house that he bought from Klein. About 40 years later the house was moved to the north of the same lot and resituated about 100 feet from its original location. Then it faced Market St. The reason for this move was an economic one instigated by Emilie Kuse now married to Theodore Eggeling. They had a general store across the street from her parent’s house on the corner of San Antonio and Market Sts. (Look at the photo) Theodore and Emilie Kuse Eggeling were successful business people. Together they ran the very successful Plaza Hotel around Main Plaza. Particularly Emilie was considered a successful business woman in New Braunfels.
Around the turn of the century New Braunfels began to attract thousands of visitors who often spent the night in local hotels. Emilie was familiar with what was happening in town and decided that another large hotel was needed. Her parents had been living in the little house on the corner of San Antonio and Market Sts. all this time. Her father had retired from the shoemaking business and she convinced her parents to allow her to move the house to the back of the large lot. Emilie and Theodore would construct a large hotel on this spot.
The Comal Hotel
The Comal Hotel, sometimes called the Eggeling Hotel, built over a period of two years from 1898 to 1900 was another masterpiece by builder Christian Herry. Built in Texas Victorian style, the two story brick building has maintained its original exterior walls to this day. The bricks were made in McQueeney where a certain clay was located. The walls are 18” thick, the window sills of white limestone with cypress wood boards are 20” wide. The building consists of a full basement, two floors and an attic.
Rooms had no closets but were provided with private basins, pitchers and chamber pots. In the back yard was a privy. At the front of the building on the second floor was a luggage hoist, a pulley used to raise and lower trunks to the upstairs porch. There was a large dining room/parlor that became a favorite of townspeople.
Upon completion of the hotel, the Eggeling family, consisting of four children, moved into the hotel. As these children grew older, they became a part of the operation of the hotel. Son Adolph drove a dray (stout cart or truck) to haul luggage from the train to the hotel. Two carriages were driven by family members. With time, family members were involved in running the hotel.
The Comal Hotel (now the Prince Solms Inn) is situated on a half-acre lot. The Eggeling family utilized the lot for their business. They would serve food from the garden and kept pigs, cows, and chickens. They had a feed store. Stories tell of guests wanting fresh milk, and Emilie would go out to the cow lot, milk the cow, and bring it to the guest.
For a brief time in 1919, a hospital was set up in the hotel by Ida Heulitte, R.N. complete with operating rooms, emergency ward, and private rooms. All doctors were welcome to use the facilities.
Bill and Nan Dillen
After the death of both Eggelings with Emilie in 1930, family members helped run the hotel until the property was sold to Bill and Nan Dillen They bought the hotel, the Klein house, and the feed store. The Dillens refurbished the hotel and brought the structure up to modern standards with electricity, heating, and plumbing. Bill and Nan Dillen were responsible for saving many historic buildings in New Braunfels.
Dillen was the one who named the hotel, “The Prince Solms Inn.” The Dillens added historic features from other structures. Cypress shutters inside were joined by wooden pegs and purchased from the original courthouse in Marlin, Tx. The doors leading to the basement were obtained from the Sam Bennett mansion in San Antonio. When the Dillens added a patio next to the outside basement entrance, stones from the old original Comal County Prison that was torn down were used. This prison building was located behind Chase Bank building and the words, “Comal County Prison” can be seen carved in the entry of the basement. For the cover of the patio, old cypress and cedar timbers were obtained from the first woolen mill-steam laundry on Comal St. Also from that site are two large doors that are used as entrances from the patio to the storage area.
The Dillens sold the property, but the sale was unsuccessful and the Dillens reclaimed the property in 1977. They sold it that same year to Betty Mitchell and Marg Crumbaker. Much of the information for this story came from research of these two ladies.
Present owner is Al Buttross who has owned the Inn since 2007. New Braunfels is so fortunate to have some of these original structures and thankful for the people that made that possible.