The Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg is an interesting look into a history of the early German settlers in Texas. Learn all about the impact that they had on the region and the culture that persists even into modern times. The Pioneer Museum is a historic site located in Fredericksburg, Texas. Designated as a historic Texas landmark in 1967, the complex houses many different historical buildings (although some are replicas) that preserve and promote education about the history of the people and the area itself.
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The oldest building in the “complex” is the Vereins Kirche which was built in 1847, but many of the other buildings (Dambach-Besier House, Walton-Smith log cabin, Fassel-Roeder House) also date back to the late 1800s. There are currently more than 40,000 historical artifacts in the collection. The grounds are maintained by the Gillespie County Historical Society.
Permanent Attractions and Exhibits
Guided Tours - One of the most popular things to do when visiting the Pioneer Museum with a group (of more than 15 people) is to take a guided tour of the premises. The knowledgeable guides lead visitors through the museum and help them understand the historical relevance of the buildings and exhibits located in them. There is a small fee for guided tours, with 50% down at the time of reservation.
Walking Tours - Another popular attraction for visitors to the Pioneer Museum is to take one of the offered walking tours. Offered in the evenings, tour guides who are natives of the Fredericksburg area lead visitors through the “old” part of town and discuss the history as well as the architecture of the old buildings there. Tours start at the Schandua House on Austin Street and there is a fee associate with them. Reservations are required ahead of time and can be made on the website. Tours last around two hours and are not recommended for small children due to the amount of walking required. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Vereins Kirche - Open every day of the week with the exception of Wednesdays from 10am to 4:30pm, guests who visit this building can see an interesting segment of history. Built after the first Germans settled in the area, the Vereins Kirche (roughly translating to “People’s Church”) was the very first building in town that was open to the public and has been used for many things since it was built - a school, a town hall, a fort, and an all denominational church. It also served as the site of the very first Pioneer Museum. The current Vereins Kirche was built in 1935 after the original was demolished (in 1896). The exhibits featured inside rotate regularly, so guests are encouraged to check the website prior to a visit to see what might be on display.
Pioneer Museum - Obviously the museum itself is the main attraction. Visit the museum and learn about the original settlers to the area while checking out the many different buildings on the 3.5 acres that make up the museum. The one room schoolhouse, the log cabin, the bath house, and many more all have so much history associated with them that they shouldn’t be missed.
There are events held year round at the museum, most of them focusing on seasonal activities. For instance, around the Christmas season, the museum hosts a candlelight tour as well as an event called the Singing Christmas Tree. In March, there are a variety of spring break related events (with living history for school aged children like handworkers, storytellers, and Buffalo soldiers) as well as Easter events like an Easter egg hunt held free for children under ten years old. Flag Day in June is also another favorite at the museum, with patriotic games and events that engage and entertain guests of all ages. Visitors to the museum are encouraged to keep an eye on the website, which frequently updates with information about the variety of events being hosted.
Another favorite special event are the German dinners hosted in the Social Hall (and occasionally just outside on the grounds). For a small fee, guests can enjoy locally made sausage, potato salad, dessert, etc.
Visit the gift shop while on the Pioneer Museum premises and take a small piece of history home. The shop features a variety of books about local and Texas history, handmade gifts by Fredericksburg artists, and a selection of children’s gifts like stuffed animals, books, and other old-fashioned children’s toys.
Pioneer Museum, 325 W. Main Street, Fredericksburg, TX, 78624, Phone: 830-990-8841