An old Victorian-style house at 259 North Main in La Grange, Texas, is holding its breath. Since it was built in 1908, two prominent families have called this impressive residence home. In decidedly different eras, the Kruschels and Rombergs have shaped the civic and charitable affairs of this city of approximately 5,500. Now the Kruschel-Romberg house is for sale.
Built by the Kruschel Family
A local contractor built the Kruschel home for a widow, Mrs. Emma Kruschel, and her daughters. This gorgeous old home features long-leaf pine floors and large airy rooms with tall ceilings. It has intricate hand-carved fretwork, transom windows, pocket doors and a dramatic oak staircase.
Other features include glorious first and second-floor wrap-around porches, a walk-in cedar closet and a cistern with a hand pump on the kitchen porch. The library’s rolling ladder spans the room, so books on the top shelves are never out of reach.
The house has a partial basement, which was – and is – unusual for La Grange because of the high water table. Perhaps the dwelling’s most unusual feature is an elevator.
The building and the inviting grounds are a credit to Mrs. Kruschel. After the death of her husband, Charles, in 1899, she invested her family’s money wisely. In fact, her four surviving spinster daughters never had to seek employment.
The late Mr. Kruschel had earned a reputation for generosity. His obituary stated, ‘he was public-spirited and aided with his purse every enterprise that he thought would benefit his town and county.’ Mrs. Kruschel continued to follow his example. After their mother died in 1943, the daughters carried on the family’s philanthropic good works.
Misses Kruschel, as the local newspapers called Agnes, Olga, Ella and Hattie, were active in their church and often entertained. Remembered as being gracious and kind, they were known as generous benefactors to La Grange and Fayette County.
Many of the sisters’ gifts were small, such as buying paint for the building housing the floral entries at the 1955 Fayette County Fair. However, those gifts were no less important.
That same year, the Kruschels won honorable mentions in the categories for the best outdoor and best nativity scene lighting in the La Grange Jaycees’ Christmas contest. All their lives, they valued being part of the community.
The third eldest Kruschel daughter, Ella, who died at 92 in 1976, outlived all her sisters.
Restored by the Rombergs
Although Arnold Romberg had ties to Fayette County, Texas, he and his wife, Suzy, didn’t plan to someday retire in La Grange. But that changed when they laid eyes on the two-story Kruschel home that had sat empty for several years. Their realtor attempted to dissuade them, suggesting homes on the market requiring significantly less TLC.
However, the ornate old home appealed to the Rombergs’ shared sense of adventure and purpose. They purchased it in 1979. Then Arnold and Suzy got to work on the extensive and most satisfying project of their lives.
Beauty More than Skin Deep
Community-Minded Owners Like the Kruschel sisters, Arnold and Suzy Romberg have devoted themselves to community and civic affairs. Suzy was instrumental in founding Second Chance, a Fayette County non-profit resale store, that’s now operated by a consortium of seven churches.
Suzy also volunteered with the Fayette County Republican Party and served on the board of the Fayette Public Library, as well as other organizations.
Arnold was elected to the La Grange City Council and served 17 years. Today, he is president of the Texas Heroes Museum in La Grange and the La Grange Railroad Depot Museum. Arnold also actively participates in several other groups.
The Kruschel-Romberg Connection
The two sets of homeowners shared an intense interest in safeguarding a mid-19th century historic La Grange house listed on the national register of historic places.
In 1961, the Kruschel sisters lent the La Grange Garden Club money to purchase the historic N.W. Faison House and its contents from out-of-state heirs to create a civic museum.
Several months ago, some 60-plus years later, the La Grange Garden Club officially turned over ownership of the N.W. Faison House to the Faison Preservation Society. Arnold is the president of this organization that will oversee and protect this antiquity in the future.
Following Suzy’s death last fall, 87-year-old Arnold put their home on the market. He hopes the new owner will treasure the grand old house as much as he and Suzy – and the Kruschel sisters – have. He also wishes they might carry on the century-plus Kruschel-Romberg commitment to the community.
If this old home could talk, it undoubtedly would echo those sentiments. Until a new owner settles in, though, the Kruschel/Romberg house continues to hold its breath.
Thanks to the Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives for use of the historical photos.
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I am fascinated by the stories that old homes and buildings could tell. Here are two other posts on that subject:
- Every Day is Memorial Day for Wayne Givens - May 26, 2023
- A Woman Ahead of Her Time - May 5, 2023
- Spring in an Old Texas Cemetery - April 21, 2023
I really enjoy reading your articles. You bring to light so much history.
Thanks, Gerri. I’m glad you find the history that’s all around us as interesting as I do.
What a grand old house…what a great article you wrote. I hope and pray a young family with lots of children will inhabit and love this beautiful old home. Awww, if only I were younger…..
Yes, it is a beautiful old home, Laurie. It is a house with very good vibes and a testament to old-world craftsmanship. That woodwork might be very hard to duplicate in this day and age. I especially like the upstairs porches!
I can’t believe the City of La Grange would not purchase this grand old home, in downtown, for the benefit of the citizens of La Grange. They have lost so many of the grand old homes that made La Grange the town that it is, or was. The homes that have fallen to the wrecking ball of developers is horrific. I remember taking our rent money to the back door of the home and giving it to one of the sisters, probably Hattie, in the kitchen in the midst of the sweet/sour smells of canning and pickling spices. The ladies were always so cordial. The house is a magnificent piece of architecture that should be preserved for citizens. Don’t let another piece of history fall to the greed of the developers or the wrecking ball to replaced another piece of concrete.
Gene, it really is a remarkable house. It’s a funny thing to say but it has good vibes. It was never broken up into apartments, so it’s virtually still like the architect and Mrs. Kruschel envisioned it 114+ years ago.
Another great story, Elaine. I’ve always loved driving by this house, and now I know it’s history.
Thank you. The old house looks lovely these days!
Totally AGREE with you Gene! I, for one, hate that all the grand old homes from the past have been torn down. One that I truly miss is my maternal great-grandparents Mennike home that once stood on a huge corner lot on South Main. I remember it very well, and to this day, could point out every single room in the home, as my siblings and I stayed there many times in our childhood. The lot was so large that two brick homes have taken its’ place. Really do miss that home.
Elaine, as for your very informative and interesting article on the Kruschel home, I simply LOVED reading about it and thoroughly enjoyed the history, which I knew little about! ALWAYS enjoy learning more about the history of my hometown, of the businesses, and of the beautiful and sturdy construction of many of the old homes there. Thank you so much for this delightful article!
Lestell, from the photos I’ve seen of the Mennike home, it was really something. Isn’t it fun to learn about the history in our own backyards? I’m very grateful to Arnold for sharing how he and Susie brought the house back to being a showcase. When I’ve mentioned the Krushel sisters to several older people around town, they spoke of them with high regard. They were greatly respected.
Thanks, Carol. I feel so fortunate to be able to ask questions of people in and around La Grange who gladly offer their input and expertise.
Awesome article with so much history. Elaine you do an awesome job.