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Texas | Columns

"Hindsights"

Looking back at:

The Domino Parlor

By Michael Barr
Michael Barr

I didn't know willkommen from auf wiedersehen the first time I wandered into the Domino Parlor in Fredericksburg. It was the summer of 1981. I was the new guy in town, looking for a fast game of Moon or 42, but there wasn't a domino in sight.

The Domino Parlor that many of us remember is the impressive rectangular building with the cut limestone walls, multiple front doors and distinctive bay window. It stands just east of what used to be Dietz Bakery on Main Street. The building is about 160 years old although its earliest history is a little uncertain.

Fredericksburg TX Domino Parlor 1974
Domino Parlor circa 1974
Photo courtesy Gillespie County Historical Society

The German Emigration Company originally assigned the town lot at what is now 222 East Main Street to Adolph Schildknecht but deeded it to Schildknecht's assignee John Schmidtzinsky in 1849. A fire destroyed the original deed in 1850.

Schmidtzinsky then sold the property to J. A. Alberthal in 1858. The building we now know as the Domino Parlor probably existed then because the purchase price of $500 seemed to indicate there was a building on the property. Elise Kowert wrote in the Fredericksburg Standard "In all probability John Schmidtzinsky built the front part of the house."

J. A. Alberthal and his family likely lived in the building while he ran a saloon. When the place sold again several years later a notation in the deed referred to a "dwelling house and a small space between the same and the house adjoining the same on lot 176 known as Alberthal's bar room."

A little known but fascinating feature of the building is a large cellar with a domed rock ceiling. The builder filled the cellar with a dome of sand to hold the ceiling in place until the mortar dried.

The Hermit, Peter Berg, probably built the cellar. He built one at the Keidel House just down the street. Because the cellars at the Keidel House and the old Domino Parlor are so similar, many people believe Berg built them both.

In 1860 J. A. Alberthal sold the building to Ottocar Mueller and Christian Frantzen for $1,100. Mueller and Frantzen operated a drug store there. When Frantzen died, Mueller became the sole owner.

Ottocar Mueller sold the property to Adolph Dreiss in 1873. Max von Reinbach lived there for a time and operated a drug store in the front room.

Henry Richter, born in Baltimore, raised in Virginia, bought the building in 1901. Richter lived in the back of the building with his wife and children and sold jewelry and musical instruments out of the front room. The bay window was Richter's show window.

Richter was an interesting character. He was a cultured man and very musical. He played the violin, classical guitar and several other instruments. He was also a composer. He knew and corresponded with Antonin Dvorak one of the first Czech composers to achieve world-wide recognition.

Henry Richter was a member of the local Casino Club. He promoted the masked ball and organized the Philharmonische Geschellschaft (philharmonic society) which included a mixed choir and orchestra. The society presented concerts in the large front room where the music spilled out onto Main Street. What a thrill it must have been to hear the music as it drifted in and out of the open doors and windows all over Fredericksburg.

In 1945 the Richter heirs sold the building to Walter Knoche. Over the next 28 years the old building housed a Mexican food restaurant, a pool hall and a domino parlor.

When William Wareing bought the property from Elsie Knoche in 1973, the Domino Parlor was run-down and in need of some serious attention. So Wareing removed the old plaster, re-painted the rock work and returned the building to its original appearance. He took out the dominoes and the pool table and opened a sandwich shop and bier garten.

I visited the old Domino Parlor (now Grandma Daisy's) the other day just to look around. It looked a lot different than I remembered, but one thing hasn't changed.

Not a domino in the place.

Michael Barr
"Hindsights" October 15, 2020 Column


Sources:
"Pioneer Building Is Being Restored," Fredericksburg Standard, May 8, 1974.

"New Days of Glory For Old Domino Hall," Fredericksburg Standard, April 16, 1975.



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