March, 2012. Fredericksburg, Texas. Feasting Our Way Through Fredericksburg

Posted on March 7, 2012

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Yes, Fredericksburg is full of food choices – authentic German, good old bar food, a bit of Tex-Mex, and that hard-to-pin-down genre, “American” food.

But I was actually thinking more of Fredericksburg being a feast for the eyes.

This is a beautiful city, laid out in a logical fashion, with an architectural surprise around every corner.

The streets are especially wide, four lanes making traffic flow easily through much of the downtown. In fact, the streets are – to us – abnormally wide for a city this old. Why? Because, we were told, you can’t back up an ox.

The early German pioneer farmers used oxen, rather than mules or draft horses, as they were “easy keepers” and not so apt to be stolen by Indians.

Once hitched to a cart or wagon, however, the only way to reverse direction was to turn around. So, the story goes, the main streets were made wide enough to make this possible.

Part of the charm of this city is that so many buildings, in both the commercial and residential areas, date from the very earliest days of German settlement.  The local Historical Society was established in the 1960’s, and since that time virtually no vintage building has been demolished.

As trees were abundant in the Hill Country, the first buildings constructed by German settlers were simple log structures, or sometimes a combination of logs separated by wide bands of small rocks and mortar.

The second phase was Fachwerk, or half-timbered post and beam structures, with the spaces between timbers filled with sticks and/or rocks mixed with mortar, then either coated with plaster or left in their natural state .

Fachwerk construction

Hewn stone masonry construction came along later, and forms the main building material still used today.

But back to the feast.

Looking up as you walk along Main Street, you see the decorative arts at their best. Stone carvings, Victorian-era fancy work – moldings, spindles, brackets; decorative iron work of all types all – or most – beautifully preserved, painted, clean and bright.

This one could use a little attention.

Perhaps that’s the German influence, still very much alive here today.

Or perhaps it’s pride of place.

After all, you don’t mess with Texas.

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Posted in: Travel - Texas