From its annual Oktoberfest to its very name (an ode to the Prince of Prussia), Fredericksburg is famous for its German roots that stretch back to its founding in 1846. The bold German immigrants who founded their own community faced inhospitable wilderness, wary Native American and Mexican neighbors, and all the other perils of living on the frontier in the 19th century. Today, you can experience how these brave folk and those who came after them lived and put their own indelible stamp on the Lone Star State by visiting the Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg.
Administered by the Gillespie County Historical Society, the Pioneer Museum encompasses 11 historic structures on three acres of land, with four of the buildings resting in their original locations. Embark on a self-guided tour of each building and you’ll get an up-close view of authentic artifacts, furniture, photographs, and audio recordings of descendants of the pioneers describing what life was like from the 1840’s up to the 1930’s. The properties include:
The Vereins Kirche (“Society Church”) is a special extension of the museum. Located in the MarktPlatz at 100 West Main, the building is a replica of the original 1847 structure that was the first public building in town, serving as town hall, school, fort, and church. The “VK,” as locals call it, now houses a range of fascinating exhibits detailing local history.
In addition to the standard exhibits, the museum hosts annual events and programs for groups. The Founder’s Day Celebration brings food, storytelling, vintage toy demonstrations, a petting zoo, and more to town every March. In December, Kinderfest gets kids in the Christmas spirit by hanging stockings on the Kammlah House hearth, making crafts, enjoying refreshments, and visiting with Santa.
Groups visiting the museum can arrange a docent-guided tour or “German meal tour” that features catered authentic cuisine. Several of the museum properties are available for private rental, as well, including the Social Hall, Sanctuary, Wagon Yard, and Board Room.
The city of Fredericksburg is a popular destination for Texas travelers for many reasons, and the Pioneer Museum is at the top of the list. Visit now and explore the foundations of the people and culture that made the city what it is today.
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