Where "Rustic" Meets "Relaxed"
Today’s second homes are largely designed for recreation and relaxation, attributes that suggest an affluent society with plenty of leisure time.
But it wasn’t always so in Texas, including in the Hill Country Trail Region, a homespun countryside of farms and ranches in a pretty and most pastoral region of the state.
Despite a lifestyle free of all the disruptions of the modern age, early Hill Country settlers, many of them of German ethnicity, spent dawn to nightfall laboring over routine chores. Every provision, from heat to food to water, required a hand in its acquisition, an intensely time-consuming endeavor with very little room for variety or diversion. In addition, a routine trip to the nearest town was always in order, a once-a-week requirement that typically occurred on Sundays when church attendance was followed by business, shopping, a visit to the doctor, and perhaps participation in a community celebration like a dance. Often, the distances between farmhouse and town were long, making the journey a time-consuming effort.
These small dwellings, sometimes constructed from lumber but, particularly in the Hill Country, also built with native rock, provided a place for the family to overnight and accomplish all their tasks in town in an orderly and efficient fashion, while allowing for an added bit of relaxation. The homes were usually composed of two rooms with a kitchen in back and porch across the front. Children’s sleeping quarters were accommodated with a tiny attic, accessed from a set of outside stairs. Water was hauled in, not surprising since many homes back at the ranch had no indoor plumbing either. Today, some of the best examples of Sunday Houses can be found around Fredericksburg, including at the Pioneer Museum and on the 400 block of West San Antonio Street.
As early German Texans retired, family Sunday Houses were often expanded, providing an ideal place for Oopa and Ooma to settle into the golden years surrounded by the conveniences of town living. Today, Hill Country bed & breakfasts often reflect (and restore) much of this charming lifestyle, where “rustic” meets “relaxed.”