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1 hour 15 minutes • 64 miles
1 hour 30 minutes • 101 miles
From San Antonio
2 hours • 118 miles
La Grange and Beyond
By Lexie Teel
Why La Grange?
For the convenience of quilt lovers around the world, the Texas Quilt Museum was built in the quaint town of La Grange, Texas. The city is located almost equidistant from Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, off two major highways (IH-10 and US
290), which places it within easy driving distance of major cities and airline hubs. Those three cities, along with Dallas and Fort Worth, are five of the 20 largest cities
in the United States.
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, San Antonio International Airport, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport offer numerous connections for international visitors who wish to visit
the Museum. We are located just off the courthouse square in La Grange’s
Lively La Grange and neighboring towns offer
plenty to see and do!
Visitors to the Texas Quilt Museum are often enchanted by the small-town charm
of its home, La Grange, Texas, (pop. 4,923) and the picturesque countryside that surrounds it. Just a few steps from the Museum, you can uncover fascinating stories about the region and the people who settled there.
History and Culture
La Grange has a long, rich history dating back to when the first colonists, led by Stephen F. Austin (also known as the “Father of Texas”) settled in the town in the 1820s. German and Czech settlers came upon the rolling hills reminiscent of their homeland and decided to stay. Their cultural influence remains imprinted on the town today.
For more information on Czech history, the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center 250 W Fair Grounds Rd offers a library, museum, and genealogy research center with more than 10,000 Czech and English books. The Czech immigrants incorporated different aspects of their culture into the town of La Grange, perhaps the most apparent being the architecture of the buildings standing in the town square. The settlers also introduced a town favorite treat- the kolache!
Kolaches are often confused with klobasnek; the kolache being a sweet treat while the klobasnek is savory. Originally intended as a wedding dessert in Central Europe, the puff of pastry holds a hearty dollop of fruit or sweetened cream cheese filling at its center. The klobasnek resembles a “pig in a blanket” filled with meat and cheese. One thing is for sure- no trip to the Hill Country is complete without trying a kolache!
Weikel’s BakerySource: Flickr/ User RachelOne of the best spots to grab a kolache is Weikel’s Bakery at 2247 TX-71. The roots of the famous bakery date back to 1929, when the Weikel family began their adventure in the business world with the opening of the Bon Ton Restaurant. When they sold the restaurant in 1985, the family turned their attention to creating a convenience store and bakery specializing in kolaches that travelers rave about! Don’t worry- you don’t have to squeeze every flavor into one trip… Weikel’s will ship these goodies anywhere in the country!
In the center of the La Grange Town Square sits the current Fayette County Courthouse at 151 N Washington St. This courthouse is the fourth structure to house county business since 1838.
Fayette County CourthouseSource: Flickr/ User Mick Watson
The first courthouse was a $250 house/grocery store that was moved to the public square and used for 10 years. The second courthouse was a two-story wooden structure with a bell that served until 1855 when it was replaced with a stone structure that stood for 45 years. The existing three-story Romanesque Revival building began in 1890, with construction completed in 1891.
Around the Square
Across the town square, you can find the famous Muster Oak. Located at the corner of N. Washington and W. Colorado Streets near the Fayette County Courthouse, the Muster Oak is a historic gathering point for La Grange militia and other military members since the 1840s.
The first group to muster under this tree were the 36 Texans who signed up under Captain Nicolas Mosby Dawson in September 1842 to fight against an invasion of Mexican soldiers near San Antonio. Since then, military personnel from six conflicts have gathered under the Muster Oak before going off to war.
On South Main Street, just behind the southwest corner of the Fayette County Courthouse Square, visitors can find the La Grange Chamber of Commerce on 220
W Colorado St. housed in the historic old Fayette County Jail.
Constructed in 1883 of native stones, the Chamber of Commerce’s Victorian Gothic architecture was built to resemble a European cathedral. The jail was in active
use until 1985, housing famous bandits, including two members of Bonnie and Clyde’s gang who robbed the nearby Carmine Bank. After renovation, the building
reopened to the public in 1995, and now contains a small museum of law
Before the jail became inactive, it was the office site of the most famous sheriff of Fayette County, Jim Fluornoy, who served during the closure of the infamous Chicken Ranch brothel. During the Great Depression, proprietor Miss Edna began accepting chickens as currency for “favors” —thus, the name. The Chicken Ranch conducted business in plain sight of local law enforcement (with whom the girls cooperated by providing crime tips) from 1905 until its closure in 1973.
Scattered remains of the brothel buildings are on private property on the outskirts of La Grange today, so this is not a tourist destination, but merely a point of historical interest. The story of Miss Edna Milton and her girls has been fictionalized in the musical, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a film of the same name starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. There is also the 1973 hit song, “La Grange,” by the “that little old band from Texas,” ZZ Top.
Sights Around Town
Monument Hill and Kreische
Brewery State Historic SitesSource: Flickr/ User Russell J BennettMonument Hill State Park is 40-acres of land on a bluff overlooking La Grange just off of U.S. Highway 77. The state park is home to the site of Monument Hill, the grounds on which the war to keep Texas
free was fought. Also housed in the park
are the ruins of Kreische Brewery, one of Texas’ first commercial breweries, established by German immigrant Heinrich Kreische in 1860. By 1879, Kreische Brewery was the third-largest beer brewing operation
in the state.
Visitors will also find the ruins of The N. W. Faison House and Museum on 822 South Jefferson St. now on the National Register of Historic Places. As one of the oldest homes in Fayette County, it contains many of the original furnishings of the Faison family who occupied the residence for nearly 90 years. In 1870, Nathaniel W. Faison, a military hero and benefactor of the emancipated African-American community, deeded the home to Louisiana Brown, making it one of the first residences in Texas to be owned by a freedwoman.
Guided tours are available to for visitors, with more information on the Texas State Park Page.
A restored 1897 railroad depot at South Washington and Lafayette Streets once housed waiting rooms and an office for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, which offered passenger service until the 1950s and carried freight into the 1970s. Today, it
is the site of the La Grange Railroad Museum that includes the original potbelly stove, a stationmaster’s desk, a safe and historic photographs. (Open Saturdays only, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Monument Hill OverlookSource: Flickr/ User Jerry and Pat Donaho
Beyond La Grange
If you have more than a day to spend in the area, don’t hesitate to explore the towns outside of La Grange! You’ll find plenty of events, museums, and historic sites to pique your interest in the surrounding towns—all within a short driving distance.
In Fayetteville, just east of La Grange, citizens raised funds and built an extraordinary Victorian-style precinct courthouse in 1880. A ball held in the new building netted funds for painting the exterior. The two-cell calaboose upstairs
was completed in 1887, and a ladies' club donated the clock in 1934. In early Texas, precinct courthouses were very rare. This courthouse was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1977. For more information, visit the Fayette County
If you take a trip down Highway 237 to Warrenton, you’ll find the world’s smallest active Catholic church, St. Martin. Measuring 14 by 18 feet, the church holds 12 benches that can seat up to 20 people. A reproduction of a famous painting behind the altar depicts St. Martin of Tours. The original painting is by Johann Ignaz Berger, a prolific 19th century ecclesiastical painter of Czech origin. It was removed in 2002 and reunited with six other paintings that were purchased by Czech immigrants in the late 1800s to hang in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fayetteville. Six of the paintings had been stored and forgotten when St. John was demolished and rebuilt in 1960, but all have been recovered, restored, and reframed for display.
In-between Warrenton and Winedale sits Round Rock, Texas. There’s always something wonderful going on at the Round Top Festival Institute, including concerts, poetry readings, holiday galas, conferences, and classes. The 200-acre Festival Hill Campus is comprised of historic homes and a school building, as well as a 1,000-seat concert hall, which includes three artists’ residences. Visitors have claimed the best sunsets in Texas can be seen from Round Top Festival Institute! Check their calendar to plan your visit.
Each May, the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival presents world-class musicians from Hungary and Poland, as well as New York City, Austin, and Houston, in an up-close setting in the Moravian Room in Fayetteville’s historic Country Place Hotel. Classics by Brahms, Mozart, and Beethoven are performed on the piano, violin, and clarinet, along with pieces by Czech and Swedish composers.
A little further up the road you’ll find the town of Winedale, Texas. The University of Texas maintains its Briscoe Center for American History at 2300 Red River St. in Austin. The Center was created to foster a better understanding of Texas history by exhibiting examples of architecture and period furniture.
Several homes of early Texas and German architecture from the 1800s have been moved to the Winedale Historical Center’s 225 acres. These include the Samuel K. Lewis house, Hazel’s Lone Oak Cottage, and two examples of Greek-revival farmhouses, the McGregor-Grimm House and the Lauderdale House.
Winedale hosts an annual a Spring Festival, as well as a Weekend Farmers’ Seminar, Octoberfest, Eeyore’s Birthday Party, Gardener’s Seminar, a fabulous Christmas Open House, and a variety of craft shows. Also, for nearly four decades, students from the University of Texas Department of English have been coming to Winedale to read from and perform the works of in the Shakespeare at Winedale program in the Theatre Barn.
Antique hunting is a popular pastime in Fayette County at the Original Round Top Antiques Fair, no matter the season! Antique vendors converge upon Round Top and Warrenton to showcase a variety of vintage wares for buyers who come from all over the state. You’ll find all sorts of treasure—from carnival glass to rosewood armoires—and then some!
Museums and Activities
The Texas Basketball Museum located at 107 Augsburg Ave in Carmine showcases a rich history of Texas high school basketball and stories of players who advanced through college onto the professional leagues. An autographed basketball used in 50,000 winning games is on display in the Museum! If you think you’re a good shot, you’ll have the chance to prove it on the court outside.
The Stanzel Model Aircraft Museum is another historical stop in Schulenburg, Texas. The Museum is located near the Stanzel family home, built in 1870. The Museum honors model aircraft pioneers, Victor and Joe Stanzel and includes the main museum, a factory wing, and tours of the historic home.
The Central Texas Rail History Museum in Flatonia, Texas, has very limited hours on Fridays and Saturdays, but tours can be arranged by appointment for anyone interested in railway history. The Museum includes a Southern Pacific Railroad caboose, manually operated switch tower, and a photo pavilion.
Located only 10 miles East of La Grange, you’ll find Fayette County Lake, the cooling pond of the Fayette Power Project. The lake is known for its largemouth bass and red-ear sunfish; it’s also stocked with channel, blue, and flathead catfish. The record flathead for this reservoir weighed 79 pounds and was 50 inches long!
All of this sightseeing is bound to work up an appetite, but no matter where you’re visiting in Fayette County, excellent food is never far. We suggest trying some of these extraordinary restaurants!
If you’re a fan of caffeine, you can’t miss Big State Coffee House and Roastery on 107 W Colorado St.! All coffee and espresso is fresh roasted, one batch at a time. Their menu has a range of espresso and coffee drinks, as well as a variety of flavors (like hazelnut and lavender!) and milks to personalize each drink. If you’re not a coffee person, cocoa, tea, smoothies, and juice are also available! Big State Coffee House also serves pastries and lunch!
Bistro 108 on 108 S Main St. is small but mighty. The bistro has 130+ wines from all over the world and an impeccable selection of craft beer. From schnitzel to scampi and crab cakes to calamari, this restaurant is sure to make everyone in your party happy. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is available at Bistro 108, along with Sunday Brunch and Early Bird Specials. Adjacent to the restaurant is Vin 114, Bistro 108’s wine bar, open Thursday-Saturday from 4pm-10pm.
Back Porch BBQ is a hot spot for some of the best meat in town, all seasoned with homemade rub and sauce. Munch on some frickles (their version of fried pickles) while you wait for you specially made burger or loaded tacos. Salads and spuds are also available!
The motto at Royers Round Top Cafe at 105 Main St. is “Eat Mo’ Pie!” and when you see the list of mouthwatering confections offered by owner Bud “the Pieman” Royer, you’ll understand why. Strawberry rhubarb, key lime, cherry, pumpkin, sweet-and-salty chocolate, and the fruit-filled junkberry pie are only a few of the highlights! If you want to feed more than your sweet tooth, try the grilled shrimp BLT on a jalapeno sourdough bun. (P.S. Bud ships whole pies.)
Royer’s Round Top CaféSource: Flickr/ User Ralph Melton
Taqueria Rio Verde on 1330 N Jefferson St. is located on the edge of town, but you won’t want to miss it! Famous for its breakfast burritos and generous servings, visitors have nothing but praise for this roadside restaurant. Taqueria Rio Verde has combination plates, specials, and the best part is… everything on the menu is under $10! The experience can’t be beat.
We’re sure this guide to the area has demonstrated that there’s more to the Texas Hill Country—culturally, historically, and socially—than just a handful of sleepy little villages. We hope you make the most of your visit!
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