Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Architecture of Comfort

As we continued our walk around the town of Comfort, TX, the name of the grandfather of the two ladies we met in the Comfort Heritage Foundation (see yesterday's entry) kept coming to our attention. His name was Alfred Giles, and in addition to the Ingenhuett-Faust Hotel (now the Comfort Common, see yesterday's entry), he was the architect for several buildings for Peter Ingenhuett.

Located behind the Hotel and in the center of the block (which is actually the size of two blocks) is the Giles-designed Ingenhuett Opera House. It is literally in the center of the block. The Ingenhuetts owned the entire block, so they built buildings wherever they wanted to without regard to traditional shapes for the lots or access roads to the streets.

The Opera House is almost hidden from view from the street. We had to walk through the Hotel and around some of the outbuildings to get close enough to the fence to take this photo.

Recently, the exterior had been repointed and repaired, but the interior is still in shambles. Townspeople are hoping that new owners will repair the interior.

Just past the Hotel, we found the Ingenhuett Saloon (building on the left, in the photo; photo below), which Giles had designed for Peter Ingenhuett.

The building on the right in the photo above is said to be a Meckler Building. This was built from a kit and was built for Ernst Karger. Originally, it was a pool hall.

Another of Giles' design is the Texas Bistro. It was originally built for Paul Ingenhuett in 1908. It served as Comfort's Post Office until 1952.

Sadly, the next building, until a recent fire, was the Ingenhuett General Store, designed by Giles and built in 1880 as a mercantile store. Until the fire, the store had been the oldest continually operating general store in the state of Texas.

The fire began at 3:00 a.m. one morning, and with all the ammunition, paint, and related combustibles in the store, the destruction was virtually complete. One of the owners of the Hotel said that every other business on the street was very fortunate in that there was absolutely no wind that early morning, so the fire could be contained.

The town and the last Ingenhuett heir (Gregory Krauter, who died about a year after the fire) were devastated. The shell of the building remains as it was after the fire.

Rounding the corner onto Sixth Street, we found the only private residence in Comfort that Alfred Giles designed. This is the Ingenhuett-Perkins residence completed in 1897.

A couple blocks from High Street is the Faltin General Store, designed in 1879 by Giles. It is now apartments. We liked this decorative portion of the building.

Two of the buildings along High Street that Alfred Giles did not design are the 1916 Arno Schwethelm Memorial Building (right, in the photo), now the public library, and the 1876 Julius Holekamp Home (left), since 1910, a barber shop.

For a town of 2,500 and no city government for 150 years (!), Comfort seems to be doing a good job preserving its history.

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