La Grange Czechs Out

We discovered a fanciful cache of history and culture in the Central Texas community of La Grande, a town steeped in German and Czech culture.

Much of the town history is encased in rich foundations and dignified old architecture laid in the late 1800s.

The three story Fayette County Courthouse is masonry and stone Romanesque Revival structure with a clock tower raising over the main entrance. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The three story Fayette County Courthouse is masonry and stone Romanesque Revival structure with a clock tower raising over the main entrance. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of buildings at the center of the city is the old jail, built in 1883. The stone building is now the town’s visitor center. The jail keeper lived at the front and watched over such “guests” as bank robbers from the Bonnie and Clyde gang. Fayette County commissioners renovated the jail in 1985 for its current use.

Walk a few blocks to the stately rust- and cream-colored Fayette County courthouse. Like many of the town’s establishments, the foundations were laid in the 1890s. Probe its lofty insides and discover a fountain on the first floor and offices with expansive bookshelves and sliding ladders on the second and third.

Though many of the original buildings in La Grange are more than a century old, a number of them have been renovated and serve as creative outlets, blending history and modern-day function.

One of the historic buildings on the town square, La Petite Gourmet Shoppe is a specialty kitchen shop across the street from the county courthouse. Le Petite Gourmet Shoppe features something everyone will love—from gadgets that make gourmet cooking a snap, to all the essential cookware, ingredients, and cutlery kitchen necessities.

Le Petite Gourmet Shoppe features something everyone will love—from gadgets that make gourmet cooking a snap, to all the essential cookware, ingredients, and cutlery kitchen necessities. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Le Petite Gourmet Shoppe features something everyone will love—from gadgets that make gourmet cooking a snap, to all the essential cookware, ingredients, and cutlery kitchen necessities. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Texas Quilt Museum opened November 2011 in a two historic 1890s buildings, which provide a stunning showcase for both antique and contemporary quilt art with their high ceilings, brick walls, and original hardwood floors, as well as many of the original railings, and moldings.

An inspiring mural on the west side of the taller structure—the 1893 Reichert and Kneip Furniture Store—announces the location. Designed by Austinite Duana Gill, Quilts…History in the Making depicts a detailed image of 15 colorful, traditional quilts draped on a clotheslines.

Inside the museum’s soaring main gallery, quilts hang above the balcony rail as well as at eye level. Traditional quilts hang amid art quilts such as a portrait of Indiana Jones.

The quilts on display aren’t the type you would find on a bed. They’re highly intricate. Many are so-called “art quilts” sewn, embroidered, hand-dyed, and otherwise embellished into landscapes or portraits.

Inside the museum’s soaring main gallery, quilts hang above the balcony rail as well as at eye level. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inside the museum’s soaring main gallery, quilts hang above the balcony rail as well as at eye level. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas Quilt Museum is located at 140 West Colorado Street in downtown La Grange, just half a block off courthouse square, which offers free parking in its shopping district.

For a real taste of Texas tradition, look no further than Prause Meat Market right off the square. I got the feeling that the butcher shop is the main business and the BBQ was an afterthought which used to be true of most meat markets/BBQ pits in the distant past. They have been serving customers since the 1890s. Today the fourth generation of Prauses are manning the chopping block helping customers stuff their bellies with tradition.

To taste Czech culture and a delectable kolache—gooey, fruit-filled Czech pastries—and other bakery goods we headed to Weikel’s Bakery. They make their Cinnamon Rolls and Honey Bee Rolls from sweet Czech dough. Cinnamon Rolls come plain or with raisins and pecans. The Honey Bee Rolls are like a Cinnamon Roll, but instead of icing they have a thick honey and pecan topping.

Lemon and Pecan Bars resemble Lemon and Pecan Pies. A favorite of mine, the Czech Shortbread Bars have a crumbly texture and are lightly sweetened with a layer of either Apricot or Cherry filling and contain premium ingredients like real butter and pecans.

For a real taste of Texas tradition, look no further than the wonderfully quirky Prause Meat Market right on one corner of the town square in La Grange. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a real taste of Texas tradition, look no further than the wonderfully quirky Prause Meat Market right on one corner of the town square in La Grange. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re still hungry Weikel’s Bakery also offers sausage-filled Klobasnikies (Pigs-in-a-Blanket), cottage cheese pockets, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, chocolate fudge and carrot cakes, chocolate meringue and cherry cream meringue pies, cupcakes, poppy seed and cream cheese rolls, apple strudel, and homemade white and wheat bread.

La Grange Czechs out as a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Eat dessert first. Life is uncertain.
—Ernestine Ulmer

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