Historic New Braunfels building finds new home in preparation for downtown development

The new development is expected to be constructed by the end of 2021. (Courtesy Woolsey Design Build)
The new development is expected to be constructed by the end of 2021. (Courtesy Woolsey Design Build)

The new development is expected to be constructed by the end of 2021. (Courtesy Woolsey Design Build)

On Dec. 15, the building that once sat at 173 E. San Antonio St. in downtown New Braunfels was relocated to its new home on the corner of E. Coll St. and S. Seguin Avenue.

The property was originally built in the late 1920s and was used as an office building for Landa Industries, according to Amy McWhorter, the city’s historic preservation officer and downtown development coordinator.

The first public library in New Braunfels was also briefly housed there, and in the 1960s it became Modern Beauty Salon, which operated in the building until its closure in early 2020.

Local development firm Woolsey Design Build purchased the property, along with two adjacent properties located at 189 and 207 E. San Antonio St., in 2019 before proposing to construct new commercial and retail spaces with the goal of revitalizing the area.

“I would say that (East) San Antonio Street is really the last street downtown that has not been brought up to speed,” said Matt Schuman, vice president of Woolsey Design Build.


During a January 2020 meeting, the New Braunfels Historic Landmark Commission recommended a partial permit of demolition for the full demolition of 207 E. San Antonio St. and partial demolition of the other two properties.

Woolsey Design Build initially applied for a certificate of alteration to demolish the structures in November of 2019, but the commission delayed its decision on the buildings until the firm conducted research into the possibility of relocating the traditional German fachwerk-style building, located at 189 E. San Antonio St.

The fachwerk home was constructed in the 1850s for early settler Otto Lindner. Like the other properties, the building has been altered throughout its history, and the roofline has been lowered, though the original basement remains intact, McWhorter said.

The property at 207 E. San Antonio St. was completed in the late 19th century and was originally a commercial building. Once In a Blue Moon, a boutique and gift shop, occupied the building until its closing in December.

Structural engineers who inspected the properties determined all three to be dangerous and in need of safety updates, Schumann said, adding the design group determined that moving any of the buildings would be too costly to consider.

“There was no way to occupy those buildings safely,” Schumann said. “What we’re trying to do is find that happy medium between new construction and old construction.”

At a February 2020 New Braunfels City Council meeting, the company was given the approval to raze all three structures to make way for the new development and a rear parking lot.

Progress on the project moved slowly through 2020 as Schumann and his associates adjusted their design plans and worked to obtain the required permits.

After news of the planned demolition was announced, New Braunfels resident David Harmann approached the firm with an offer to purchase and remove the building located at 173 E. San Antonio St.

“I’ve been involved in historic preservation work for over 50 years here in New Braunfels,” Hartmann said. “When I heard that this development is going to take place and that they were going to dismantle the buildings... I became quite concerned."

Hartmann said he initiated talks with the Woolsey group, who own the property and will be spearheading that development, and worked out a deal to purchase the building and move it within a certain timeframe.

In order to safely move the structure, any material containing asbestos had to be removed prior to relocation, Hartmann said.

“They had to take out part of the interior,” Hartmann said. “They had to take out the flooring down to the wood, and they had to take out the eight windows that were in the building.”

Hartmann, whose family has worked in the pharmacy industry in the city since 1850, plans to restore the building to house his collection of items from many of New Braunfels’ original pharmacies.

The collection includes artifacts from family-owned businesses such as Richter’s Pharmacy, which once served the New Braunfels community until competition from chain stores contributed to their closures, Hartmann said.

After it has been renovated, the building will be known as the Historic Richter’s Pharmacy Collection and will be open for tours by appointment only.

“I’m using my own private funds to restore the building,” Hartmann said. “My project is to leave all of this to the citizens of New Braunfels.”

The remaining two buildings were dismantled at the end of 2020, Schumann said, and added his team is expected to submit their final plans to the city for review within two months. He hopes to begin construction in early spring.

Crews salvaged wood beams, adobe brick and other materials from the original buildings to utilize design elements as well as an education display dedicated to the history of the property, Schumann said.

Once construction begins, work is expected to last approximately six months, and several business owners have expressed interest in the future retail space, he said.

“We’re going to kind of capture what was there. We’ve learned a lot from going through all of the historic meetings,” Schumann said.
By Lauren Canterberry
Lauren began covering New Braunfels for Community Impact Newspaper in 2019. Her reporting focuses on education, development, breaking news and community interest stories. Lauren is originally from South Carolina and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.


MOST RECENT

See daily COVID-19 data updates from New Braunfels, Comal County and Guadalupe County. (Community Impact staff)
New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman among newly reported COVID-19 cases

A total of 80 new confirmed or probable cases have been reported since Feb. 15.

Residents repairing damage to residential or commercial properties from the storm could have their permitting fees waived. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Braunfels to expedite permit and inspection process for repair of winter storm damages

The city plans to waive fees for certain permitting processes.

Buffalo Wings & Rings employees delivered packaged meals to Connections Individual and Family Services on Feb. 18. (Courtesy Connections Individual and Family Services)
‘It’s just what should be done’: New Braunfels businesses donate food, water to community, nonprofits

From food to water, area businesses found creative ways to help the community.

New Braunfels Utilities lifts the boil-water notice for all customers. (Courtesy Pexels)
BREAKING: New Braunfels Utilities ends boil water notice for entire service area

Customers no longer have to boil water before consumption.

Like many other cities throughout Texas and beyond, New Braunfels was covered in ice and snow for the majority of last week, resulting in unusually high demand for power and water. (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Braunfels Utilities: company is working on solution as fears of exorbitant bill hikes grow

In an effort to diminish customer concerns over perceived skyrocketing utility bills in the wake of last weeks extreme winter weather event, New Braunfels Utilities on Sunday announced a plan is in the works.

Both districts announced over the weekend that Monday, Feb. 22, would be a student holiday.. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
New Braunfels area school closures are extended through at least Feb. 22

Due to lingering effects brought about by last week's extreme winter weather, Comal and New Braunfels ISDs have extended school closures into the coming week.

cars on snowy road
Texas Disaster Declaration opens door to federal aid for losses sustained during winter storms

Individuals and businesses who sustained losses during the February 2021 winter storms are eligible for federal assistance, according to a Texas Disaster Declaration approved

The New Braunfels Utilities service area has had full water pressure restored throughout the system. (Courtesy New Braunfels Utilities)
Full water pressure restored in New Braunfels Utilities service area

Crews are currently working to assess water quality in the system.

Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Feb. 19 updating residents on the state's response to recent winter storms. (Courtesy Office of the Governor)
Gov. Abbott: Texas is working with federal, local agencies to offer financial relief, resources to residents impacted by winter storms

Gov. Greg Abbott said the state continues to prioritize four main areas of concern: power, water, supplies and fuel production.

ERCOT president and chief executive Bill Magness (left) was joined by the electric grid manager's senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin on Feb. 19 for a briefing on the company's emergency operations. (Screenshot via ERCOT livestream)
ERCOT chief: 'We are completely back to normal operations' as of Feb. 19

Officials with the Texas electric grid manager also said they are preparing for state and federal reviews of this week's power outages.

ERCOT ends energy emergency conditions as utility companies in New Braunfels turn their attention to water outages. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
ERCOT ends energy emergency conditions as utilities in New Braunfels turn attention to water outages

New Braunfels Utilities has announced that it anticipates the majority of customers will have water services restored by Feb. 20.