In German, the word “shul” means school and the word “burg” means town. For this day trip, “Schulenburg” means painted churches, model airplane museums, and homemade German sausage and schnitzel.
This area of Texas is best know of its rich German and Czech heritage. When these settlers immigrated to Fayette County in the 1800’s, they brought their culture, food and faith. Following the deep traditions of the motherland, they built amazing churches that rival the cathedrals of Europe – known today as the “Painted Churches.” From the outside, they look like ordinary country churches, but inside you’ll find ornate altars, intricately painted frescoes and details that make you feel as if you’re standing in Old World Europe. Saint Mary’s Catholic Church of High Hill is considered the “Queen of the Painted Churches.” One step inside and you’ll understand why. St. John the Baptist Church in Ammansville is known as the “pink one” (at least inside.) And Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church gives visitors a quaint view of religious life, but still in painted church glory.
Another important part of German and Czech heritage is indeed music, specifically POLKA! Downtown on Schulenberg’s Main Street you’ll find the Texas Polka Music Museum. It’s full of instruments, pictures, outfits and a map showing every polka band in the Lone Star State. If your feet aren’t tapping by the time you leave, “czech” your pulse. For some real dancing, head to Sengelmann Hall on Wednesday nights or other special occasions. Find more on this venue down in the “food” section.
Another museum not to be missed is the Stanzel Model Aircraft Museum honoring the Stanzel family and their rise to becoming one of the top model aircraft brands in the world. They were even inducted into the model aircraft hall of fame for their iconic “Tiger Shark” model. This well-done museum is full of models, maps and information on how “control-line” model airplanes work. I highly recommend it.
If you’re looking for a snack, the Potter Country Store has all the pecans you could ever desire. Harvested from their own trees, the Potters turn their raw product into pies, pralines, candies and fudge. The candied pecans are amazing, and can even be picked up warm to go. Oh, word to the wise, if you ask for a “Pee-Can”, they’ll point you to the bathroom. These are “Puh-kahns.”
You can bet your lederhosen that if you’re in a German community, there’s going to be great authentic German sausage. To find it, head to City Meat Market, owned by the Smrkovsky family, so you know it’s legit. These guys make about a dozen varieties of their own sausage ranging from traditional beef and pork to venison and good old-fashioned wieners. What’s even better is that they smoke them and prep them for eatin’. I recommend a sausage plate or a homemade chili dog with one of their classic wieners.
Now, if you’re looking for schnitzel, then head to Momma’s at Sengelmann Hall. This dance hall and restaurant was built in the 1894 and still operates today. There were decades when it was converted to a hardware store, but a lot of hard work and cold hard cash has returned it to its original glory. Ask about the ghosts….if you dare.