Hondo Chamber hosts Tour of Vacant Buildings June 10

Have you ever wondered what is in the 2nd and 3rd stories of some of our downtown buildings? Maybe a particular shop has been vacant for a long time and has piqued your interest. Perhaps you own a vacant building and are looking for ways to increase the value of that property or want to sell it. Well wonder no more. The Hondo Area Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to announce the Tour of Vacant Buildings. This event will take place Saturday, June 10, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm starting at the Chamber office. This will be a self-guided tour complete with a tour packet including vacant buildings and specifications, maps, and city code ordinances. Tour packets will be available for pick up at the Chamber office beginning June 5th, and will also be available at the Chamber office the day of the tour.
Currently, there are approximately 15 empty buildings listed on the tour, with more being added weekly. The buildings are listed as for sale, lease, or rent. Realtors and/or building owners will be present to answer important questions regarding square footage, cost, condition, amenities etc. Long-time resident volunteers will also be on hand to answer questions regarding the history, past ownership, previous usage of the buildings, and will share any interesting stories they may have.
Hondo, the county seat of Medina County, is on U.S. Highway 90 and the Southern Pacific Railroad, forty-one miles west of mid-town San Antonio. The Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway built through the county in 1881, and the first sale out of its Hondo City plat was made on October 1, 1881.
The town quickly became a trade and shipping center for the area’s agricultural and ranching economy. During its heyday in the early 1900s most of the downtown business buildings were built, chiefly of D’Hanis brick. The name of the town was shortened to Hondo in 1895, but the town itself expanded to become the major commercial center for most of Medina County.
Examples of historic relevance include the Fohn-Bless Store (Currently Deep Creek Depot) at 1020 18th street. Originally built as a store-residence in D’Hanis about 1878 by John Fohn (1839-91), a native of Prussia, the structure was also the site of D’Hanis elections and a Justice of the Peace Court. In 1897, Rolf Frerichs purchased the building from the Fohn Estate and moved it to its current location. Frerichs’ son-in-law, C.J. Bless, operated a store here until 1939. Medina Electric Cooperative occupied the building until 1963. (Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1974.) Part of this property is listed on the tour.
The beloved Leinweber Building, located at 1706 Avenue M, was built in 1907 for Ernest Roland Leinweber (1869-1922). This three-story commercial building was constructed by prolific South Texas contractor Gus Birkner, who also participated in the construction of the Texas State Capitol. Built with locally produced brick, the structure features some influences of classical and romanesque styles of architecture. The Hondo landmark has housed a variety of professional and commercial offices. (Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1986.) This property is currently being considered as a tour stop. Several other historic buildings including the Armstrong Hotel on Hwy. 90 are part of the tour.
This event was created primarily to see empty buildings filled, to showcase current businesses already in the downtown area, and bring attention to beautiful buildings that have so much life left in them. Hondo Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roxanne Carter expressed the need for creating this event.
“Our purpose for creating this event really encompasses our whole city. We want to encourage growth, band our businesses together, beautify our city, and create jobs. We all have a vested interest in our town and want to see it grow in a positive way that brings everyone together and we feel that by showcasing our vacant/empty buildings we can do just that.
“People are curious by nature and this is a great way to explore that beautiful old building you’ve been looking at for years and wondering why no one has ever done anything with it…maybe that someone is you.”
If you are looking to bring a business to Hondo, expand an existing business, this tour would be a great opportunity for you. If you own an empty building and would like to be added to this exciting event, please contact the Hondo Area Chamber of Commerce at 830-426-3037 or office@hondochamber.org.