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Railroads change NB architectural scene

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Dr. Carl Windwehen’s wedding gift to his bride, Lena Coreth, was a beautiful home on 257 E. Bridge St. now owned by Joel and Merry Saegert, and that home is being nominated for the prestigious designation as a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.

In Comal County, there are presently 50 structures that have achieved this designation. Just to give you an idea about what this entails, here are six structures that you no doubt are familiar with: CC Courthouse, Faust Hotel, First Protestant Church, Gruene Hall, Henne Hardware and Old New Braunfels High School. Look at sophienburg.com for a list of all 50 structures. The designation is awarded to not only residences but also bridges, churches, commercial buildings and schoolhouses.

The Windwehens

Dr. Windwehen practiced dentistry in NB for 40 years. He married Charlotte Stocker in 1902. A daughter, Stella, was born in Lockhart. In 1905, his wife, Charlotte, died and Windwehen moved with his daughter and his mother, Ida, to New Braunfels. By this time, NB had emerged as one of central Texas’ significant market towns. There were lots of teeth to fill and pull. The 1906 telephone book lists Dr. Windwehen as the only dentist with a telephone, perhaps the only one in town.

In 1910 Dr. Windwehen married Lena Coreth, a granddaughter of Ernst von Coreth, an Austrian nobleman who came to NB and purchased land on Mission Hill. Lena grew up near Mission Hill and attended school in NB. Many of you will possibly remember her brother, Rochette Coreth, prominent rancher and business man.

After the Windwehens married, they moved into their new home where eventually two more daughters were born, Mabel (Faust) and Florence (Eikel). Dr. Windwehen died in 1946 and Lena lived in the home until her death at age 90. She was well known socially, known for her art work and her gardens. The Saegerts have kept up the tradition of outstanding gardens on the property

The house

Originally pioneer homes utilized readily available building materials, caliché and lumber. It was a very basic one-room shelter. After a while, a fachwerk half-timber folk tradition house using rough-hewn cedar for the structure, clay as infill and lime to seal the walls. It is thought the immigrants either learned this technique in Germany or from Prince Carl who had the idea that this form of construction should be used because he felt it was more “pure”. OK!

A Queen Anne style architecture used in homes really started locally after the railroads arrived in CC in 1885 for the IGN and 1900 for the MKT. Prefab buildings became available. Steeply pitched roofs with full width porches and decorative trim, they were often built of wood siding or shingles, brick or stone, or a combination.

Looking at the Windwehen house from the outside, you see many of these Queen Anne features. Going inside, however, reveals a very personal, livable home. I decided to describe the inside of the home to you by combining not only recollections of grandchildren (mostly from the 1950s) but also the architectural description done by Bob Warnecke for the CC Historical Commission. The grandchildren are Jerry Faust, Kay Faust Specht, Carol Faust Patton and Jon Eikel who all have memories of the Windwehens and their home.

A compilation

Built on one of NB’s original town lots, the house is of wood frame construction on pier and beam. From the front, one can see the attic, finished in 1968, and a large porch to the left. There are two brick chimneys visible, used for pot-bellied stoves that are no longer used. Originally the house was heated by a coal-burning stove in the basement and the coal chutes are still visible at the back of the house.

Walk into the central corridor through the original front door. The parlor and then dining room with a large table and kitchen beyond are on the right. On the left are a living room, solarium, master bedroom/bath combination and second bedroom.

Most of the doors and transoms are original. The entry hall contained bookshelves, a piano, table and chairs. Grandson Jerry Faust recalls sleeping on the porch. Everyone slept there because there were many beds and no air-conditioning anywhere. Granddaughter Kay Specht remembers four or more white wrought iron beds and as she slept, she could hear the bells of the Catholic Church. All of the Windwehen babies were born in the house. Daughters Stella and Florence both married in the parlor and daughter Mabel was married in the Methodist Church, but had the reception at the house.

Kay’s mother Mabel told her stories of the Christmases celebrated at the Windwehen house and how Dr. Windwehen had played Santa Claus and the children were not allowed to see the tree until Christmas Eve, a practice in NB. In the dining room, a large tiffany-type chandelier hung over the damask covered table laden with silver, crystal and china. Granddaughter Carol Patton remembers the traditional afternoon Kaffee Klatsch with her grandmother, drinking coffee out of demitasse cups.

As a child, grandson Jon Eikel was impressed with the basement. He recalls the coal stove and the ducts that brought the heat to each room. He would walk to Hollmig’s Drive-In to pick up hamburgers for dinner with his grandmother. When he married, he and his wife lived in the back of the house converted to an apartment. In her bedroom, his grandmother had a small table where the three would play dominoes.

The Windwehens were significant to NB and the home embodies distinctive characteristics of a type of construction during the change of the century. Joel and Merry Saegert have maintained this external and internal model of preservation. Thank you, Joel and Merry.

Dr. Carl and Lena Windwehen in front of their new home.

Dr. Carl and Lena Windwehen in front of their new home.