Sengelmann Hall is a fully restored 1890’s Texas dance hall, complete with a restaurant, saloon and biergarten, located in historic downtown Schulenburg, TX. Until it closed in the 1940s, Sengelmann Hall was known as the Two Brothers Saloon, and it stood as a cultural hub in downtown Schulenburg. Residents and visitors would gather here for drinks, games, socializing and, of course, plenty of dancing! 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.
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. 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 (with bullet holes from brawls during the 1800s) 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, they carry on the tradition to protect their bartenders and beverages in their unique chicken wire caged bar, and they added a beautiful new balcony where the original once stood over Main Street.
The Harpers were careful to preserve every detail they could and to ensure all additions maintained the original spirit of Sengelmann Hall. When Sengelmann Hall officially reopened in June of 2009, a crowd of people joined in the celebration—from old-timers who remember dancing there as children, to youngsters who will bring their own children in the years to come.