This springtime tour will visit a remarkable hidden treasure in the heart of bluebonnet country. On a bluff with scenic views, a half-timbered house built in 1847 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places anchors a cluster of historic buildings sheltered by giant oaks.
Georg Carl Willrich, original owner of Mount Eliza, was prominent among a group of intelligent, educated German settlers who came to Fayette County in the 1840s. Inspired by ideals of democracy and political freedom, they founded a community known as the Latin Settlement. These “Latins” were proud of their culture, but life in their new rural surroundings proved difficult for them; they were often less practical and industrious than other settlers who had left the Old Country for economic reasons. Willrich’s wife Elise dealt with privations and hardships with grace, as her charming letters (now published) show. The large Saal of the Willrich home became the locus of community events and meetings of the “Prairieblume,” a literary society founded by Johannes Romberg, Texas’ foremost German poet. These gatherings featured readings of original poetry and prose compositions, theatrical and musical performances, games, and lively discussions.
Twenty years ago the Willrich house was in complete disrepair and slated for demolition. It was rescued by a Houston family devoted to hands-on historic preservation. Today, restored stone by stone and beam by beam, it is a visual feast inside and out as well as a working museum of architecture.
Our visit will begin in the comfortable Saal, where the owner, a writer as well as amateur historian and archaeologist, will bring the house’s history to life. We will hear excerpts from Elise Willrich’s letters, as well as musical selections from the period played on her square grand piano, brought from Germany. After lunch on the grounds, we will have time to tour the buildings and explore the property. On the return trip we will stop to visit a beautiful “painted” church built by German-speaking Texans.
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Fall 2018 brochures are out! Please let us know if you did not receive one and we will be happy to send one to you.
Registration is now open. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card.
The interest list for the fall and spring study tours is also now open. If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez in the fall of 2018 or Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy.
Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12.
Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. Please contact the registrar if you would like to be wait listed for this course.
Have a great summer. We look forward to seeing you this fall!
For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at registrar.houstonseminar.org or phone 713.666.9000.