The early 20th century boll weevil blight put a stop to the banking, ginning, and shipping successes in Gruene – founded in 1850. It was a ghost town. Then, in 1974, Chip Kaufman, an architecture graduate student at the University of Texas, got out of his kayak at Gruene Crossing and began poking around. Kaufman found several historic buildings still standing: a cotton gin, grist mill and water tower, and the now-famous Gruene Hall. Kaufman discovered later that these buildings were slated for demolition and were to be replaced by a 138-acre housing development. Working with both the Texas Historical Commission and the new owner of the land, Kaufman was able to save these buildings and put Gruene on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, tens of thousands of visitors a year come to Gruene to see the 1872 Henry Gruene Mansion, the restored cotton gin, and of course the venerable Gruene Hall – where boots have scooted to the tunes of Texas music royalty like Willie Nelson and George Strait.
Greune National Historic District