Independence Trail Region

Dance halls were the social centers of many small towns in South Central Texas, built by German and Czech immigrants beginning in the late 19th Century. One of the more elegant establishments was the Two Brothers Saloon in downtown Schulenburg in Fayette County. Built by Charles and Gustav Sengelmann in 1894, the two-story, high-Victorian brick building housed a saloon on the first floor and a dance hall on the second. When the music stopped in the 1940s Western Auto moved in and after Interstate 10 bypassed Schulenburg in the 1970s the building stood vacant. Decades later a descendant of Schulenburg settlers bought the historic property and restored its former glory. Ornamental brickwork, ornate ironwork and longleaf pine floors shed their dust and the bar was rebuilt using historical reference photos. Now called Sengelmann Hall, top-drawer acts bring crowds from Houston, Austin, San Antonio and farther afield.

Other Schulenburg attractions also lure visitors off the interstate highway. The Stanzel Model Aircraft Museum tells the story of brothers Victor and Joe Stanzel, model aircraft hobbyists who, in the 1930s, turned their passion into a business. For seven decades they manufactured model airplane toys at a local factory. The museum includes a factory wing, early control-line models, and other displays and interactive exhibits. For a more “grounded” trip back in time, visit the Greater Schulenburg Chamber of Commerce to book a tour of the “Painted Churches” in the nearby towns of Dubina, Ammansville, Praha and High Hill. Built by German and Czech settlers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the churches are simple on the outside with the look of European cathedrals within. Local and itinerant artists covered walls and ceilings with murals and frescoes, and painted wood columns and baseboards to look like marble.