Sengelmann Hall is the winner of several architectural and preservation awards including the National Preservation Award presented in 2010.
Renovating Sengelmann Hall: History in the Making
As a child, Dana Harper used to pass through Schulenburg on trips to Gruene Hall with his grandfather. He always felt a strong connection to the Texas Dance Hall tradition, and he wanted to help preserve it. A Houston native, Harper's ancestors helped found Schulenburg, so when he found out that Sengelmann Hall was for sale, he and his wife, Hana Hillerova Harper decided to buy the historic building.
The hall closed in the 1940s, around the start of World War II. A Western Auto store moved in downstairs, and the dance floor upstairs served as a storage room for several decades. When I-10 bypassed the town in the 1970s, that business closed as well. When Harper purchased the building in 2007, few people in town even realized it had been a dance hall.
Fortunately, much of the hall's original architectural features were intact. The original plank flooring, carved marble pillars and pressed tin ceilings were all in great shape, and the upstairs was virtually untouched. But much work remained.
The Harpers went to work, with help from a variety of restoration volunteers and professionals, including local carpenters.
When the paint was removed, to everyone's surprise, it exposed the original decorative stenciling on the walls, which is now prominently featured alongside the original woodwork. Carpenters meticulously recreated the original mahogany bar from old photographs, and pecan trees were brought in from Dana's family ranch to restore the biergarten outside.
Upstairs, we carry on the tradition to protect our bartenders and beverages in our unique chicken wire caged bar, and we added a beautiful new balcony where the original once stood over Main Street.
The Harpers were careful preserve every detail they could and to ensure all additions maintained the original spirit of Sengelmann Hall. Though most of the building is a historic restoration, our bathrooms are brand new and everything is air-conditioned!
After years of planning, countless hours of work and more than $1 million invested, Harper's vision has finally come to fruition. When Sengelmann Hall officially reopened in June of 2009, a capacity crowd of 400 people joined in the celebration—from old-timers who remember dancing here as children, to youngsters who we hope will bring their own children in the years to come.