Fredericksburg (population 8,911 in 2000), the county seat of Gillespie County, is located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. The community was founded in 1846 by German immigrants under the auspices of the Adelsverein, a German society promoting emigration to Texas. Within two years Fredericksburg had grown into a thriving town of almost 1,000.
There are over 700 historically significant structures in the Fredericksburg Historic District. Several houses survive from the 1840s and some exhibit timber-framed German fachwerk construction. Limestone later became the building material of choice, used in both commercial and residential construction. Fredericksburg contains several unique “Sunday Houses,” small townhouses used by outlying farmers went they came to town for church on weekends.
Fredericksburg’s Germanic character remained very strong during the 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, it was after 1900 before the public schools employed purely English-speaking teachers. Today, the community’s German heritage remains a key draw for tourists – in the words of the Chamber of Commerce, “Howdy and Willkommen.” This legacy is celebrated annually at the Founder’s Day Festival and at Oktoberfest.
In 2003, Fredericksburg opened its West End Welcome Center on a site that once housed a gas station. Staffed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the center features historical and cultural exhibits maintained by the Gillespie County Historical Society (GCHS). Creation of the welcome center is credited in helping to boost city sales tax revenue in 2005 by 13.65% over the same timeframe in 2001.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2006.
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