For decades, locals of all generations have frequented Eagles Hall for polka dancing, walking, weddings, birthdays, and all manner of social events in the century-old building.
Locals remember their parents and even parents of their parents going to Eagles Hall, which was recently sold to an unknown buyer. Many remember the hall’s historic wooden dance floor, which has remained in its original state for almost 150 years.
With the hall in possession of an unknown entity with an unknown purpose, many natives remember it for years.
Some have said that the sale of the building is one of many stories of an evolving New Braunfels, which has seen a booming population and changing landscapes.
Patrice Clayton, 64, remembers the hall through weddings and birthdays of friends, hoping the hall is preserved somehow.
“It was just the camaraderie that everyone was there and everyone felt welcome there,” Clayton said.
Texas History Tapestry
The Brotherhood of the Eagles acquired Eagles Hall in 1958 after the hall underwent various owners and alterations, but with the historic wooden dance hall still intact.
Diane Luersen, 69, was born and raised in New Braunfels to two German parents. She remembers Eagles Hall was called “Echo Halle” and went to Saturday dances with her parents or grandparents.
She said some of her favorite memories were going to the lobby of her grandparents’ 1934 Ford that looked like a “Bonnie and Clyde car”.
“On Saturday night we would go dancing, so I learned to do the polkas and waltzes,” Luersen said. “As kids we liked to do – when there was an intermission – the dance floor was made of wood and we took off our shoes and with our socks on, we were running and sliding and we had so much fun doing it. “
Her family made a tradition of going there every New Years Eve and in the basement of the building under the dance hall was a social place where families relaxed after hours of dancing.
“I’m pretty sure it was midnight, between 11 and 12 we went down to the cellar and all the ladies were bringing a shoebox and that’s where you had your sandwiches,” Luersen said with a laugh. “After eating and visiting, we were able to dance for about an hour.”
In the hall, people participated in “grand marches”, a German tradition where the couple led followed by family and friends.
“It was a pretty German thing to do after a wedding or an anniversary,” said Luersen. “Everyone was there and it went zig-zag in the great hall. It was like a big walk. to top it all.
The lobby had no air conditioning at the time but had “large open windows” and finally “huge floor fans”.
“Every woman and man had a handkerchief to wipe the sweat off their forehead,” Luersen said with a laugh. “I have a lot of pretty handkerchiefs from my mother.”
Many dance organizations and other groups have used the hall, including the Good Time Polka and Waltz organization.
Their last dance was two weeks ago in the venue, but they plan to continue dancing at the local Elks Lodge for now.
The next two dances will be at Elks Lodge, the next one will be on October 10th. Doors open at 1 p.m. and dancing begins at 3 p.m.
Roy Haag, a member of Good Time Polka and Waltz, and his wife, Theresa, joined the organization about 20 years ago.
“It’s another part of New Braunfels history in the hit,” said Roy Haag, 52. “It’s happening everywhere. Mom and dads just can’t keep up with this growth. We are trying to keep the Polka Waltz tradition alive and we need members. “
He went to the gym with his parents who went there in the late 1940s.
“It was the best dance floor in New Braunfels,” said Haag. “It’s a very family-friendly place. “
Clayton said the room was a county staple when everything wasn’t so divided into different areas.
“If they ever look at how the city was planned, the streets were numbered differently, that was the town of Comal,” Clayton said. “It was really like five small boroughs of municipality and leadership.”
Clayton said the room was not only meant for events, but also meant something to the many locals who grew up in this area as well as the history of the state.
“It’s more than local history, it’s Texas history,” Clayton said. “Most people want to keep this historic Texas tapestry alive.”
The hall is older than Gruene Hall, but it is not a “historical landmark” as it would need this Comal County Conservation Society designation or other state or government landmark designation. federal.
Comal County Conservation Society president Cindy Coers said the room could get a designation from them if the owner so wishes.
“It is certainly possible and we would be more than happy to help the owner if that is what he chooses to do,” Coors said. “There might be some benefits to that, maybe tax credit money in exchange for preservation.”
There are criteria for a state designation by the Texas Historical Commission: the property must be at least 50 years old, have recorded and documented historical significance, and have retained some architectural integrity.
The city also has its own different designation with its own process.
The City’s Office of Historic Preservation and the City’s Historic Monuments Commission work together to preserve monuments and neighborhoods, as well as any changes to monuments and historic neighborhoods.
Coers said she hopes the building will be preserved in some way.
“We talked to a lot of people who celebrated their weddings or their 50th wedding anniversary there, they had birthdays and a lot of memories were created in this building,” Coers said. “It’s historic in the sense that it doesn’t have a historical marker, but it’s historic in the sense that it’s been here for many years – and it’s a historic building for the community.”