Gruene is purely Texan. Ask many Central Texans if they've ever two-stepped in this little town and you'll see a nostalgic gleam in their eye. Just north of New Braunfels, Gruene stands as a pristine portrait of Texas history and is revered as a place of Texas legends. After all, the entire town has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and many of the buildings hold a medallion from the Texas Historical Commission.
Settled in the late 1840s by German farmer Ernst Gruene and his sons, the town gained most of its prosperity from the family's cotton business. Gruene's second son, Henry D. Gruene, built a Victorian-style home that is now the iconic Gruene Mansion Inn. Then in the late 1870s he built the Guadalupe River–powered cotton gin, which now houses the famed Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar, and Guene Hall, a dance hall and saloon that served as the social venue for the community before becoming a live music venue in the 1970s.
Though the attack of the boll weevil on cotton crops in the late 1920s and the hostile economic effects of the Depression all but shut down the little town, this Texas star rose again in the 1970s with the restorative support of Pat Molak and Mary Jane Nalley. The two poured their boundless energy into preserving the original turn-of-the-century feel of the town.