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ANHALT HALL

ANHALT HALL. Anhalt Hall is a dance hall and community center on Anhalt Road in southwestern Comal County, a mile off Highway 46 and twenty-eight miles west of New Braunfels. The first part of the hall was constructed in 1879, and additions were completed in 1898 and 1908.

Germanqv immigrants first settled the area around Anhalt in 1855. The site was known as Krause Settlement by 1859. The general store there was built by Conrad and Louis Krause in 1856 and became the post office in 1879. The community grew quickly since it was situated at the midpoint on the trail between New Braunfels and Boerne. Krause Settlement became a place where travelers could water their animals, do business at the freight station, and rest before traveling on. When the post office was established in 1879, the name of the community was changed to Anhalt at the suggestion of local settler Heinrich Wehe. There have been two explanations offered for the name Anhalt. One, that it designates "stopping place" in German, and the other, that it refers to a region of the same name in Germany.

Wehe maintained the freight station on his place; a number of residents were freighters who transported goods between the Gulf Coast and communities inland. Anhalt Hall became the meeting place for the Germania Farmer Verein (German Farmer Association), an association formed in 1875 to protect cattle from thieves and Indians. The residents branded their cattle with the association brand G and began to alert residents and law officers to rustling. The program was successful, and by February 7, 1876, members received a state charter and adopted bylaws.

When the first part of Anhalt Hall was completed in 1879, the association used it as a meeting place. This part of the hall is now the old office and the ladies' restroom. In 1887 the German Farmer Association began building a larger meeting hall connected to the original structure. It was completed in 1898 and is the present-day seating area for the dance hall. In 1908 a 6,000-square-foot oak dance floor was added to the hall. The bandstand and center stage were added to the hall after 1908. The hall has high ceilings and large fans at each end. In 1993 the association spent $60,000 to replace the tin roof which had been damaged by leaks and to make other structural repairs. A lean-to added to the south side of the building provides covered seating. The dance floor was refurbished during the renovation.

The first six-piece brass band in Comal County, the William Specht Spring Branch Band, was formed in 1880 and played at Anhalt Hall. George Strait, as part of the Ace in the Hole Band, played at Anhalt Hall for the Smithson Valley High School FFA dance in 1978. Country singers such as Clay Blaker, Gary P. Nunn, Johnny Rodriguez, Geronimo Treviño, Chris Wall, and Jerry Jeff Walker have performed at Anhalt Hall. The movie All the Pretty Horses (2000), which starred Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz and was directed by Billy Bob Thornton, includes a scene filmed at Anhalt Hall.

As of 2011 the German Farmer Association still met at the hall throughout the year, including for two major festivals--Maifest and Oktoberfest. Maifest and Oktoberfest are held on the third Sundays in May and October. After holding a successful picnic in May 1877, the association decided to hold a planting festival in the fall that would exhibit field and garden products and livestock. This event became known as Oktoberfest and has been held at Anhalt since 1877. Oktoberfest features entertainment and dances and a traditional meal of pot roast, peas, potato salad, and sauerkraut.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Anhalt Hall (www.anhalthall.com), accessed August 24, 2011. Brenda Anderson–Lindemann, Spring Branch and Western Comal County, Texas (San Antonio: Omni, 1998). Geronimo Treviño III, Dance Halls and Last Calls: The History of Texas County Music (Plano, Texas: Republic of Texas Press, 2002).

David DeKunder

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

David DeKunder, "ANHALT HALL," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xda04), accessed September 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on August 24, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.