Seguin is a city in and the county seat of Guadalupe County, Texas,United States. The estimated municipal population in 2012 was 26,272.
Seguin is one of the oldest towns in Texas, founded just sixteen months after the Texas Revolution. The frontier settlement was a cradle of the Texas Rangers and home to the celebrated Captain Jack Hays, perhaps the most famous Ranger of all.
Seguin was the home of Dr. John E. Park, who experimented in construction using concrete made from local materials. The nearly 100 structures—the courthouse, schools, churches, homes, cisterns, walls, etc.—made up the largest concentration of early 19th-Century concrete buildings in the U.S. About 20 of them remain standing.
The use of concrete largely ended when the railroad arrived in 1876, bringing cheap lumber and the equipment needed for brick-making. The town had five brickworks, and the wooden buildings of downtown were completely replaced with brick by the beginning of World War I.
For almost 100 years, the town was dependent on the rich surrounding farmland and ranches. Then an oil boom came just as the Great Depression was taking down other towns and cities. Seguin could raise enough tax money to match the federal grants for 'make-work' projects. The New Deal transformed the city's public face with Art Deco style City Hall, Courthouse, Jail, and fountain, as well as storm sewers, sidewalks, and three swimming pools (one for Anglos, one for blacks, one for Hispanics). The town commemorated its centennial by opening Max Starcke Park, with a golf course, a pavilion, picnic tables and BBQ pits along a scenic river drive, and a curving dam that created one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Texas.
To preserve some of the historic character of the town, Seguin became one of the state's first Main Street cities, and the downtown district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fine homes by leading architects J. Reily Gordon, Solon McAdoo, Leo M.J. Dielman, Atlee B. Ayers, and Marvin Eickenroht dating from the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century can be found on many streets. However the city does not have any officially designated historic residential districts.
The post-war era also saw industrial development, with an electric furnace mini-mill turning scrap metal into construction products, a factory making electronic components for automobiles, and most recently a Caterpillar plant assembling diesel engines.
- ZDT's Amusement Park, a family-owned, family-oriented amusement park featuring 12 attractions. Re-purposed century-old agribusiness structures provide Texas' highest indoor playground with tunnels and slides, wall climbing up former silos, and riding go-karts through, and on the roof of, an old warehouse, as well as modern parachute drop and water ride.
- The Texas Agricultural Education and Heritage Center - The "Big Red Barn" helps kids and others learn the mechanics and history of farming in Central Texas. Sample crops and gardens, barnyard animals and poultry, displays of vintage equipment and tools. A collected village has houses, barns, a one-room schoolhouse, a pharmacy, blacksmith shop, gas station, a church, and other relics from our rural past. Many events on weekends, and tours by appointment.
- Sebastopol House State Historic Site is perhaps the finest surviving 19th-century concrete building west of the Mississippi. Here on the frontier, settlers began experimenting with concrete construction years before the Civil War, and built 100 or so structures of "lime-crete", as it was called. A team of slaves built this mansion, mixing local gravel (caliche), sand, lime, and some organic materials, then pouring the mix into wooden forms. When the concrete was solid, they raised the forms and repeated the process. A journalist declared Seguin "The Mother of Concrete Cities". Sebastopol House, a well-preserved architectural masterpiece, built in 1856 in Greek Revival style, is now a museum offering free tours.
- Heritage Museum - Artifacts from paleo-Indian archeological sites, a display on the Wilson Pottery(the first business in Texas successfully operated by ex-slaves after the Civil War), and keep chests of other historical collections that illustrate area's the rich multi-ethnic heritage; located downtown.
- Heritage Village -
- The oldest still-surviving Protestant church in Texas, built in 1849 for a Methodist Conference, outlived the state's older churches lost to storms, fires, and progress (torn down to make way for newer, larger ones).
- A log cabin built by an Irish immigrant, who promptly returned to Ireland to rescue his family from theGreat Potato Famine. Then 23 family members lived in (and around) this simple structure until another room, and then more cabins, could be built.
- A fanciful gingerbread doll house built for an adopted daughter who came on one of the Orphan Trains from NYC.
- An adobe house built for a German immigrant who knew nothing of adobe. Was it constructed by workers brought from San Antonio? Or by some of the hundreds of African slaves here in the years before the Civil War? Records are lost, so you can inspect and speculate for yourself.
- Pape's Pecan House and Nutcracker Museum - features an awesome display of the world's largest collection of nutcrackers, from Germany, India, and around the world. Varieties of the local nuts are for sale, shelled and unshelled, as well as in candies.
- Texas Theatre - Built in the town's oil boom (opened March 1931), designed by Marvin Eichenroht, a "local boy" with a degree from M.I.T. Lovingly restored, the building shows an exuberant mix of styles, variants of Art Deco called Zig Zag and Art Moderne. Materials including fancy brickwork, colorful tiles, rich woods and textiles, brass fixtures, even mica lampshades. The vertical sign reading T E X A S and the flashing lone star at the top are surrounded by chasing lights, a wonderful example of spectacular signage from the era before neon took over.
- Palace Theatre - a second downtown theater which offers periodic community events
- The Fiedler Museum - Displays of geological examples, with various types of rocks from across the state in a small garden at Langner Hall on the TLU campus.
- The "World's Largest Pecan" - A five-feet long, two-and-a-half feet wide concrete nut erected in 1962 sits in front of the county courthouse. This county is a large producer of pecans and often claims the nickname "Pecan Capital of Texas." Seguin itself has been described as "a big pecan orchard with a small town in it". A new pecan-shaped sculpture, four feet longer than the previous record holder, was unveiled on July 4, 2011 to ensure its place as the "World's Largest." It can be seen at the Texas Agricultural Education and Heritage Center. The original and still photogenic 'big pecan' remains at its downtown location.
- True Women - Seguin is one of the settings of the 1994 Janice Woods Windle historical novel True Women. The author grew up here, learning the women's side of history from family members. A self-drive tour of sites in the book is available at the Chamber of Commerce or at . The best-selling novel was the basis for the 1997 CBS miniseries adaptation, True Women, starring Dana Delany, Annabeth Gish, and Angelina Jolie.
Parks and outdoors
- Max Starcke Park - Windshield Tourism: a scenic River Drive passes "one of the Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Texas" and the "jade-green water" of the Guadalupe, beneath towering cypress and pecans; Golf, 18-hole regulation course; Picnic Areas and Pavilions; Little League Baseball-Softball complex; Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis courts; two Paddling Trails for Canoes and Kayaks; Kids' Kingdom Playscape.
- Seguin Aquatic Center - Wave Pool, Swimming, Party Area
- Seguin Events Complex / Fairgrounds Park - home of the Guadalupe County Fair & PRCA Rodeo(held the second weekend of October), a Rodeo Arena, Baseball Fields, 14 Volleyball Courts, Meeting Spaces, used as the site of Buck Fever and other annual events
- Walnut Springs Park - Trails, Hiking, Former Stagecoach Route, Historic Markers, Sculptures
- ZDT Amusement Park - Waterpark, Indoor Games, Rides built in, thru, and around century-old agro-industrial buildings; grain silos, for example, have become climbing walls and warehouses hold Go Carts - Website
- Seguin Central Park - Statue of Tejano hero Juan N. Seguin by the sculptor Erik Christianson ofBulverde; Fountain, Trade Days, Band Concerts, Freedom Fiesta, Car Shows, other events
- Historic Main Street District - Walking/Driving Tours, fine early 20th-Century buildings by some of the state's leading architects: J. Riely Gordon, Leo M.J. Dielmann, Atlee Ayers, Marvin Eickenroht, Lewis Wirtz and Harold Calhoun, Henry Steinbomer
- Seguin Outdoor Learning Center - Website
- Max Starcke Park Golf Course - 18-hole course along the river, the original 9 holes designed by John Bredemus, a prolific course designer called "the father of Texas golf", the 9 holes added later and designed by Shelley Mayfield make their way through a former pecan orchard
- Golf Club of Seguin / Chaparral Golf Course - Website
- The Bandit Golf Course
- Lake Dunlap - Fishing, Boating
- Lake Seguin / Seguin Paddling Trail - Canoeing and Kayaking at Max Starcke Park. Website
- Lake McQueeney Recreational Area - "The Water Ski Capital of Texas"
- Lake Nolte - Meadowlake - Boating, Fishing
- Lake Placid - Boating, Fishing, Jet Skiing
Seguin loves a good parade, and holds three every year.
- "The Biggest Small-town 4th of July Parade in Texas", starting at 10 a.m. and lasting two hours
- Guadalupe County Fair Parade, starting at 10 a.m. on Friday of the second weekend in October
- Holiday Stroll Parade, held on the Thursday after Thanksgiving, is an evening lighted parade that brings Santa Claus to the town's Central Park.
The traditional route heads south on Austin St. from College St. (or further north), passing through the Historic Downtown District to break up at the Fairgrounds.
- January: Martin Luther King Day. A Taste of Soul, music, a seated dinner, a fashion show, and a solemn march.
- March: Toast to Texas, March 2. Marking Texas Independence Day at Sebastopol, ceremony, music, games for the kids.
- April: Relay for Life. Honoring those fighting cancer and raising funds to find a cure.
- June: Fiestas Juan Seguin. Music, vendors, Chihuahua races; you don't have to be a chihuahua to have fun.
- July: Freedom Fiesta. Music, food, vender booths, carnival rides, street dancing.
- July: The Biggest Small Town 4 July Parade in Texas, Mayor's Luncheon, fireworks.
- October: Guadalupe County Fair & PRCA Rodeo, second weekend. Professional rodeo, a midway of carnival rides, and dances. Exhibitions of livestock and crops, photography contest, baked goods, hand crafts, and other displays.
- October: Pecan Fest & Heritage Days, last weekend. "Official Pecan Pie of Texas" contest, Ghost Story tours of haunted buildings, and Saints Alive! cemetery tours, vender booths, kids' rides, a maze, costume and pumpkin carving contests, Hats Off to Juan Seguin parade and hat contest.
- November/December: Holiday Stroll, Thursday after Thanksgiving. Lighted night parade brings Santa, lighting of Central Park, store window displays, venders booths, food, and carols.
- December: Heritage Tour of Homes, first weekend. Private homes from the historic city share their beauty and their pride.
The Mid-Texas Symphony holds half its concerts in the Jackson Auditorium at TLU in Seguin, the other half at various venues in nearby New Braunfels, in addition to two free Children's Concerts in each city. The symphony was founded in 1978 by Anita Windecker, a music professor, who believed that these towns, and her beloved Texas Lutheran University, could support a professional orchestra. Today Seguin and New Braunfels are the smallest cities in the U.S. to sponsor one. In 2013 David Mairs marked his 18th season as Music Director of the Mid-Texas Symphony. Laurie Jenschke is the Choral Director and Director of the TLU/MTS Community Music Academy.
- "The World's Largest Pecan", on the Court House lawn, a popular folk art piece, plaster over concrete, created by a local dentist and master plasterer Monroe J. Engbrock, 1978
- Eagle, atop the Guadalupe County Veterans Memorial on the Court House lawn, by Erik Christianson, 2006
- "Stagecoach Road", a 90-foot wide mural by Brent McCarthy, on the route where stagecoaches passed from the Magnolia Hotel, 2008
- Statue of Juan N. Seguín, a hero-on-horseback in Central Park, by Erik Christianson, 2000
- Art Deco fountain in Central Park, designed by an unknown architect, 1930s
- Bas-reliefs of Justice and Wisdom, on the Court House high above the entryways, sculpted by Harold Calhoun, 1936
- Bas-relief of the town seal high above the Municipal Building (City Hall) entrance, carved by Harold Calhoun, 1935
- Bird sculptures in Walnut Springs Park, eight wood and metal works by Marika Bordes and a team of her students, Barry Duncan, Howard Crunk, and Jimmy Schmidt, 2012
- Statue of Martin Luther, in front of Beck College Center, near entrance to Texas Lutheran campus off Court at Prexy Dr., by Elmer P. Peterson, 1976
- Three Graces Sculpture, on TLU campus, south of the Schuech Fine Arts Center
- Sculpture Garden, on TLU campus north of the Schuech Fine Arts Center, works by various artists, faculty and students
National Register Sites
Guadalupe County has about a dozen sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, most of them in Seguin:
- Sebastopol House (added 1970)
- Erskine-Holloman House (1970)
- Los Nogales (1972)
- Wilson Utility Pottery Kilns Archeological Dist. (1975), on Capote Road
- Joseph E. Johnson House (1978)
- Robert Hall House (1979)
- Saffold Dam (1979)
- Park Hotel, a.k.a. Plaza Hotel (1980)
- Commercial Historic District (1983), with a boundary increase (2003)
- Edward and Texana Tewes House, on Linne Road (1997)
- Sweet Home Vocational & Agricultural High School (1998)
In addition, the county boasts 80 Texas State Historical Markers, with about 25 of those within Seguin's city limits.
Seguin is located at 29°34′28″N 97°57′55″W (29.574329, -97.965332). This is 35 miles east-by-northeast of downtown San Antonio, on Interstate 10. It is about 50 miles south of Austin on Hwy 123, off Interstate 35, or by Hwy 130, a toll road..
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.2 square miles (50 km2), of which 19.0 square miles (49 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.89%) is water.
The elevation at the Court House is 522 feet above sea level.
The city operates the free Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library at 707 E. College St. The Blumberg Library at TLU is also open to for use by adults who pay a $15 annual membership.