Less than 100 miles west of town, historic Schulenburg was founded by Czech, German, and Austrian settlers in 1873, and ever since, the town has been known for good times and great music. In the 1890s, townsfolk erected a grand two-story dance hall downtown, and for the next 50 years, Sengelmann Hall served as the focal point for the town's waltz- and polka-driven parties and celebrations.
As with so many other Texas dance halls, Sengelmann closed down after World War II. The building was repurposed several times after that—at one time it housed an auto parts store—and few Schulenburgers could even recall Sengelmann's glory days when Houston native Dana Harper (a descendant of the Cullen family) and his Czech-born wife Hana Hillerova Harper bought the building in 2007.
Some of Dana Harper's ancestors were among Schulenburg's first families, and as a child he had always dreamed of one day restoring Sengelmann Hall to its former glory. And so that is exactly what he and Hana did. After they poured more than a million dollars into a historically sensitive restoration, Sengelmann Hall has never looked better, and the Harpers' renovation won them a National Preservation Award in 2010.
Today's Sengelmann Hall houses a live oak-shaded biergarten; Momma's, a Texas/European restaurant on the ground floor; and a ballroom above, just like it did back in the Gilded Age. This Saturday, it will serve as the focal point for the What I Like About Texas Wine and Music Festival. Uber-traditional Pasadena-bred honky-tonker Dale Watson will serenade two-steppers in the ballroom beginning at 8 PM, and those dancers should be good and primed to cut a rug after the downtown wine trail that commences at four PM.
Momma's offers handmade pizza, local sauerkraut and sausage, Angus burgers, and breaded cutlets and schnitzels influenced by Hana Harper's Czech childhood, along with more than a dozen beers and an assortment of pre-Prohibition era cocktails at the majestic mahogany bar.
Repent your gluttony the next day at one of the area's famous and ornate Mittleuropean houses of worship—Schulenburg bills itself as the Home of the Painted Churches.
For more info call 866-504-5294.