Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sentimental Sunday Houses, Fredericksburg, Texas

More than 100 Sunday houses were built in Fredericksburg, and many of them are still around. A Sunday house was a small house built in town by a rural family, to be used when they came into town for Sunday church services.  Often the family would come into town early Saturday morning for market, and perhaps a social event that afternoon or evening.  They'd sleep in the simple house, which was often one room with a lean-to kitchen and a sleeping loft for the children upstairs.  The house might also be used when a family member needed to be in town for a length of time, such as for business or medical care.  Sometimes the Sunday house became the home of a retired farmer/rancher after passing on his larger property to a grown child.

Sometimes there was an outside staircase to the sleeping loft, as you can see in the Knopp and Crenwelge houses pictured below.  A smaller house, like the Loeffler-Weber or Weber house (also below), might simply use a ladder to get to that loft.

While some of these houses are used as residences, today many are guest houses, museums, or places of business.  All of the ones pictured below are on the west end of town, within walking distance of my parents' home or of the bed and breakfast where we normally stay when we visit them.
Johann Joseph Knopp House, 309 W. Schubert at Milam.
The historic marker reads:  "Built of native stone in 1871, soon after Knopp and his wife Katherina (Stein) came to America. From Germany they traveled six weeks by clipper ship to Indianola and by oxcart to Fredericksburg. They bought this homesite for $70 in gold. Knopp was a stonemason; family farm, a mile from this home, was worked by the wife and children. (Of the 15 children born to the Knopps, nine reached adulthood.) House, restored in 1939, was extensively remodeled in 1968. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1971."  There is a second marker just below the first that says, "In 1939, Fredericksburg's historical preservation era was opened when architect Albert Keidel restored this house.  Later (1968) remodeling was done by Mrs. Marschall D. Altgelt, a member of the family of the city's founder, John O. Meusebach."

Christian Crenwelge Place, 312 W. Schubert at Milam (across the street from the Knopp House).
The historic marker reads, "A native of Germany, Christian Crenwelge migrated to this area in 1854 and worked as a farmer and cabinetmaker. At a sheriff's land sale in 1872 he bought this property located across the street [diagonally] from his home [at 307 W. Schubert]. For a short time he operated a molasses press here. The Victorian style Sunday house was constructed about 1903. Crenwelge sold this residence and his homestead after the death of his wife in 1906. 
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1979."

Vogel Sunday House, 418 W. Austin St.
The historical marker reads, "In the 1880s German immigrant Christian Vogel (1824-1889) built the left half of this structure to house his family while in town for Saturday trading and Sunday church services. His son Amandus (1854-1898) and daughter-in-law Elizabeth (Weber) (1857-1944) added the right half and covered it with pressed tin at the turn of the century. It was used as a Sunday House by Elizabeth until her death and remained in the family until 1947. 
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1982."  And yes, this house belonged to kin of the owners of  Vogel Orchards.

Loeffler-Weber House, 508 W. Main 
The historical marker reads, "Log room and loft were built by German emigrant Gerhard Rorig as his home in first winter of Fredericksburg's existence, 1846-47. Noted cabinetmaker Johann Martin Loeffler added typical rock and half-timber rooms and cooking fireplace, 1867; his son-in-law, J. Charles Weber, in 1905 restored the southeast lean-to. For Loeffler-Weber family, this was home or Sunday house for 90 years.  Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1971." On a plate added near the base: "Restored 1964 by Mr. and Mrs. George A. Hill, III - Consultant: Albert Keidel, Architectural Designer."

Weber Sunday House, on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum, off Milam near Main Street.
It was built by August Weber in 1904, with no electricity or running water, for the family's weekly 7-mile trips into town.  The main cabin is 16' by 20'.
© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. Very cool! I had never heard of that! Wow it makes me want to go look for 'Sunday House' in every town. Thanks Amanda for sharing!

  2. Tracy - my first Sunday houses link was going to the wrong thing, but I fixed it- it now links to a Texas State Historical Association article. It says, "Such German settlements as Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, and Castroville were laid out as farm villages, and it was expected that farmers would build their houses in town and journey each day to outlying fields and pastures, in the European manner. To that end, farmers were granted town lots. Soon after initial colonization, however, Germans moved out to settle in isolated farmsteads on their land, like their Anglo-American counterparts. The Catholic and Lutheran churches, however, did not soon follow their parishioners into the countryside, but stayed instead in the county seats. Many devout Germans therefore erected Sunday houses, often on the town lots originally intended for their homes." It also says there were some in Harper and Cave Creek (also in Gillespie County), but I don't think any other places in Texas have them.