The district area coincides with the original platting of the town by Herman Wilke, with the streets are laid out in a wide grid. The district encompasses 367 contributing buildings and 191 non-contributing buildings. Many of the buildings in the historic district have been designated either a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, and/or added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Texas.
Located in the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is one of the earliest Germanic settlements in the state. The district encompasses 40 blocks of historic buildings dating from the mid-19th century. The buildings are made of stone and fachwerk, a traditional German building technique consisting of heavy timber framing and diagonal bracing, with an infill of limestone. The town was founded by an association of German noblemen, the Adelsverein, that brought 7,000 German immigrants to Texas.
By the turn-of-the-century, Fredericksburg began to look like many other American towns with residences reflecting popular American architectural styles ranging from the Queen Anne and the Colonial Revival to Bungalows and Four-Squares.
The Architectural structures of Fredericksburg are often unique to the Texas Hill Country
The Vereins Kirche, or Peoples Church, was designed by Friedrich Armand Strubberg; it became the first public building in Fredericksburg in 1847. It served as a non-denominational church, school, town hall and fort. Pupils learned their lessons in their own German language. The building models a style known as Carolingian architecture, similar to the Aachen Cathedral. Each side of the octagon was 18 feet (5.5 m) wide by 18 feet (5.5 m) high, with each side having a10 foot roof (3.0 m) high, topped by a 7 foot (2.1 m) high octagonal cupola.
The Sunday Houses are unique to the German immigrant culture of the Texas Hill Country. In reverse of the old European tradition of living in town while working the rural farms, the early Fredericksburg German settlers made their main homes on the acreage they worked. On their town lots, they erected Sunday Houses for overnight stays on their weekly travels into town for supplies and church attendance. Older generations would use the houses as a retirement house, as the younger generations inherited the acreage and the work. These houses were often made of limestone rock coated with whitewash inside and out. Depending on the individual family's need, these relatively small 2-story houses were designed for limited stays, with one or two ground floor rooms and an upper loft for sleeping. Standard design was a fireplace and a porch. Often there was an outside staircase leading to the loft.
Many of these homes have been restored with some used as Bed and Breakfast retreats
The White Elephant Saloon is famous for its elephant relief parapet and rich iron cresting. The native limestone building was constructed in 1888 by John W. Kleck. Originally part of a chain of gentleman's resorts, the building was operated as a saloon until Prohibition.
The Richardsonian Romanesque style bank building was designed in 1889 by architect Alfred Giles who also designed two other structures in Fredericksburg, the old courthouse now known as the Fredericksburg Memorial Library, and the William Bierschwale house on Bowie Street. A fourth design by Giles is the 1893 Morris Ranch Schoolhouse at Morris Ranch in Gillespie County.
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