Stories, artifacts of New Braunfels preserved at historic Sophienburg Museum and Archives




Tara Kohlenberg serves as the executive director of the museum and archives.
 (Photos by Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Tara Kohlenberg serves as the executive director of the museum and archives. (Photos by Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

Tara Kohlenberg serves as the executive director of the museum and archives. (Photos by Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The first museum building is shown on a local phone book. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Sophienburg Museum and Archives. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Tara Kohlenberg serves as the executive director of the museum and archives. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Sophienburg Museum and Archives. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Tara Kohlenberg shows quilts that were created in celebration of the city's 150th anniversary. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Sophienburg Museum and Archives. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Sophienburg Museum and Archives sits on a hill overlooking New Braunfels—the site where Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels built the first local government building after founding the town in 1845.

Prince Carl established the headquarters of the local Adelsverein, a group of German citizens who colonized Texas, on the hill to provide protection for the new community, said Tara Kohlenberg, executive director of the museum.

In honor of his betrothed, the prince named the land “Sophienburg,” which translates to “Fort Sophie,” Kohlenberg said.

In 1926, a group of citizens purchased the property to construct a museum dedicated to the history of New Braunfels. In 1933, the Sophienburg Memorial Association was incorporated, and the first

Sophienburg Museum was built at the corner of South Academy Avenue and West Coll Street. The building, which was designed to resemble a fort as an homage to the original purpose of the land, doubled as the first local library until a separate library building was opened on the same property in 1938, Kohlenberg said.


Three decades later, the Dittlinger Memorial Library was constructed on Sophienburg Hill and was converted to the museum and archives after the library moved to Common Street in 1999. For Kohlenberg, the purpose of the museum and archives is to preserve local artifacts and stories.

“The difference between a museum and an antique store is the story that goes with the item,” Kohlenberg said. “Everything we have has been donated.”

Only items directly connected to the city and its residents are displayed, Kohlenberg said, and exhibits are designed to take visitors on a journey through the city’s history. “The archives are the sources.

That’s how we knit all this beautiful fabric together and are able to tell what really happened,” Kohlenberg said. “It’s a treasure trove of information that goes back at least 175 years.”

The Sophienburg Museum and Archives

401 W. Coll St., New Braunfels

830-629-1572

www.sophienburg.com

Hours: Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., closed Sun.-Tue.
By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.