The 1860 Witte-Schmid Haus was donated to the Texas German Society in 1986 by Annie Schmid and her son, Sanford Schmid. The German fachwerk structure known as "Das Haus" was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December, 1997. It is located in the Schoenau community between Industry and Shelby in Austin County, Texas.
"Das Haus" is the site of state executive committee meetings and the annual Christmas party! Tours of the house can be arranged by calling Sanford Schmid at (979) 968-5520.
The first owner of the house was Dr. Ernst Witte, a lawyer born in Blomberg, Germany, in 1793. After a successful career in law and politics in his native land, he followed his sons to America, and with his wife, Lisette, bought 1422 acres of land in Texas. He turned his attention to raising cattle and cotton.
Shortly thereafter, the Wittes began construction on the house, which reproduced many of the details of the Wittes' house in Germany. The structure is of stone and timber, with two levels and a cellar. The first level has a sandstone perimeter with a stucco finish; the upper level is faced with clapboard siding. Interior walls are of half-timber, or fachwerk construction filled-in with adobe bricks.
Dr. Witte died in 1869 and was buried in a small cemetery a short distance southeast of the house. His wife died in 1883 but was buried at Shelby because wet weather made the road to the family cemetery impassable.
The house remained in the family until December, 1986, when it was given to the Society by Annie Schmid and her son Sanford Schmid. It is an excellent example of 19th century German-Texan construction and is among the oldest surviving examples of German architecture in Austin County.
Additional Information for Tour Leaders and Visitors