Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time's Imprint on a Lil' Texas Town

Old Town SpringOld Town Spring, A Texas Landmark
Old Town Spring is tucked away east of Interstate 45 just north of Houston [the FM 2920 / Spring Cypress exit].  Though most people around Houston know where Interstate 45 is, they don't usually know where Old Town Spring is.  This wasn't always the case because Old Town Spring has been around since the late 1800's [when it was known just as "Spring"].  Old Town Spring was a railway community [Houston and Great Northern Railroad] that was supported by many local farmers' crops of mostly cotton.  Many settlers and farmers in the area were of German descent.  With the addition of a new rail line in the early 1900's, Spring expanded commercially and with the integration of a railway junction in Spring, the lumber industry [from the piney woods of East Texas] grew as well.  The rail facilitated the transport of raw resources to Houston and on to the ship channel for distribution, and the little town of Spring benefited and prospered.  By this time, the town of Spring included hotels, saloons, gambling houses, a bank, a hospital and an opera house. 

A Town's Reaction to Changing Times
However, when Prohibition rolled around, the residents began to see a decline in the town, and in addition the roundhouse was moved to Houston.  It didn't begin to grow again until the early 1970's when new businesses and specialty shops began to open there due to the oil boom in Houston.  Today Old Town Spring is a shopping destination with Christmas being its most busy time.  Some of the types of businesses that can be found there include Texas artist shops, antique shops, a plant nursery, gift shops, Amish furniture shops, jewelry shops, home decor shops, and restaurants.  Old Town Spring is also the host of the annual Texas Crawfish & Music Festival.  Basically, there's a little somethin' for everyone in Old Town Spring, Texas.  [Find out more about Old Town Spring.]

Wunsche Brothers Cafe, A Texas Landmark
Wunsche BrosAs mentioned above many settlers in Old Town Spring were of German descent. One of these was the Wunsche family that first settled in Spring in 1846, around about the same time other German immigrants were beginning to come to Texas.  The Wunsche family was diverse in their interests which included farming, the railway, and operating a sawmill.  Then in 1902, the Wunsche brothers - Dell, Charlie, and William - began to build Wunsche Hotel and Saloon with pine lumber cut at their own sawmill.  The decline of the town caused by the move of the railway roundhouse to Houston and also Prohibition affected Spring including the Wunsche Hotel and Saloon.  According to some, the Wunsche Saloon was the last to close on the eve of Prohibition in Harris County with people drinking and dancing in the streets.  In 1949, it was converted to the Wunsche Brothers Cafe, which it still is today. After 121 years of  family ownership, it was sold out of the family in 1982, and today eating there is a delightful step back in time to when life was simpler.  A time where a big juicy cheeseburger, a basket of crispy fries, a tall cold glass of iced tea, and a piece of whiskey cake could solve all your problems.  [And it works today, too.]