A blending of Indian, Mexican, Polish and Western cultures gives Bandera a unique ambiance not found elsewhere in Texas.
Many bloody battles between Apache and Comanche Indians and the Spanish Conquistadors took place in Bandera Pass (12 miles north of Bandera on Hwy 173). Legend has it that, for years afterwards, a red "bandera" (Spanish for banner or flag) was flown at the site to define the boundary between Spanish and Indian hunting grounds.
The cypress trees that outline the course of the Medina River brought the first permanent settlers to Bandera. A mill that sawed cypress shingles was established here in 1853. In 1855 sixteen Polish families immigrated to Bandera to work at the mill. The polish heritage is evident in much of the town's architecture. A fine example is the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, second oldest Polish Catholic Church in the U.S.
Bandera's title, "Cowboy Capital of the World" originated when it became a staging area for the last great cattle drives of the late 1800s. Confirming Bandera as the "Cowboy Capital of the World", a bronze monument honoring the many National Rodeo Champions who call Bandera home, stands on the Courthouse lawn.
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HISTORICAL WALKING TOUR OF BANDERA
1. Schmidtke-Callahan House (McMullan Insurance) (1870): Built by James Henry White of Georgia for Charles F. Schmidtke, early-day merchant, sawmill and gristmill operator. Recorded Texas Historical Lankmark.
2. Old Jail (1881): Designed by noted English architect, Alfred Giles, who designed a lot of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark andlisted on the National Historical Register.
3. Old Courthouse (JP Offices) (1865): Built by Henry White as a store. Purchased by the county in 1877 and used as a Courthouse until 1890. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark. On National Register.
4. Carmichael and Hay Store (Western Trail Antiques Mall of Bandera) (1868): Built by Henry White and operated as a general store. This structure claims the oldest elevator west of San Antonio.
5. Huffmeyer Store (Shoe Biz & The Junction) (1878): Built by B.F. Langford for Emil Huffmeyer. Recorded Texas HistoricalLandmark.
6. O.S.T. (Old Spanish Trail) (1921): Established across Main Street and moved to present location (previous site of Huffmeyer Store's wagon yard) in 1923. Building burned in 1933 but the O.S.T. continued operations in nearby location until present rock building was constructed that same year.
7. Old First National Bank (1875): Built of limestone by W.J. "Short Bill" Davenport and operated as a private bank for several years.
8. Lee Risinger Store: Second home of First State Bank. Adjacent building was Cox Hall, Bandera's first theater.
9. The Silver Dollar (1901): First as the Fox Hole and later Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar, it's the oldest continuously operating honkytonk in Texas.
10. Stein's of Bandera(1908): First housed the feed store of Henry and Tom Stevens and later was the B.F. Langford and Son Hardware Store. The Langfords also operated a funeral parlor here.
11. Oldest stone building in Bandera (1855): Built by P.D. Saner, this much altered structure was used as a courthouse, school, store, funeral home with the first ambulance/hearse in Bandera County, and residence. It was sold in 1869 to Henry Stevens, Sr. for $75.00.
12.Old First State Bank (Law Office) (1850): On a site bought by John James in 1842, the old two-story rock building was used for a school between 1860 and 1879. In the 1880s, it was known as the Bandera Institute, operated by a Professor Ryan, thought by some to be the fugitive John Wilkes Booth. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.
13. M. Boyle Store (Antique Store) (1908): A frame building with a false front. Established by Irish immigrant brothers, it was an active turn of the century business.
14. Old Blacksmith Shop (1850s): Used by John James and Charles de Montel while surveying the town. It was used by the Methodist Church in mid 1860s; B.F. Langford's cabinet shop during the 1870's; blacksmith and wheelwright shop and later from the 1920s to 1950s it was a doctors office.
15. River Front Motel (1947): Originally the Half Circle Courts. House that serves as office was built in the 1880s.
16. Catholic Cemetery (1850s): Established after 16 Polish families came to Bandera in 1855. Names of these early immigrants are listed on a monument in front of the church.
17. Old Rectory (1930): Built from stone from a previously used addition to the church.
18. St. Stanislaus Catholic Church (1876): Established by the Polish colonists who came to Bandera in 1855. Their 1858 log building was located where the present gothic vernacular stone structure stands. It is the second oldest Polish church in Texas. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.
19. Jureczki-Tobin House (1876): Built by Mr. And Mrs. Franz Jureczki, early pioneer colonists from Poland. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark. On National register.
20. St. Joseph's Convent-Parish Museum (1874): Originally erected for the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception as a convent; later used as a school for children of early Polish settlers. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.
21. St. Joseph's School (Parish Hall) (1920): This hipped-roof symmetrical two story rock structure was designed from older plans of the Bandera Public School Building making it look older that it really is.
22. Carmichael Home (Mansion in Bandera) (1890): Built by H.H. Carmichael. This house was started in Medina, Texas. An Indian raid so disturbed Carmichael's wife, that he moved it down river to Bandera.
23. First Methodist Church (1867): The original frame building was later replaced by a stone structure that has since been enlarged to its present architectural plan. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.
24. Kronkosky Library (1934): a WPA project of the great depression era. Remodeled in the 1970s and enlarged in 2002.
25. Bandera School Campus (Old High School built by WPA, 1937; Old Elementary School, 1913): The 1913 school was the first substantially built, multi-room public school in the area and is still in continuous use.
26. Cabaret (1936): Such stars as Jim Reeves, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson and many other giants of Country/Western music have played this dance hall.
27. Courthouse (1890): Designed by B.F. Trester, Jr., work started by Ed Braden and Son of San Antonio and completed by E. Huffmeyer, local merchant and contractor. Stone for the building was quarried locally and laid by itinerant Russian stonemasons. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark. On National Register.
28. First Baptist Church (1908): The entire block was bought in 1883 and given to the church by F.L. Hicks in 1884. The old church was completed in 1908 and later replaced by the present structure in1908.
29. Frontier Times Museum (1933): Built by frontier journalist-historian J. Marvin Hunter to house collections of Texana. Maintained by Frontier Times Museum, Inc. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.