This local history museum offers an international perspective, preserving and interpreting the early history of New Braunfels and its German founders. The museum is located on the site where Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels arrived in 1845 and retells the story of these first European immigrants to the area. The museum also includes exhibits that tell the history of the Native inhabitants in the area, Hispanic settles, the early years of the settlement and the area during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the transition from a frontier outpost to a growing city. The museum also includes one of the largest archives related to German immigration to Texas.
This historic site has been preserved due to the efforts of local residents who learned of its historic significance and purchased the site in the 1920s. Within a decade, a small museum dedicated to the founding of New Braunfels opened in its own building. This museum has grown since it first opened in 1938, with new exhibits and programs that reflect the pririties of including diverse perspectives about the history of the city and its place in the world.
In 1845 Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels and a group of emigrants set out from Germany to start a colony in the Republic of Texas. The Prince chose a site on the Comal River because of its abundant water, lush vegetation, and a good omen. He and his band of pioneers founded New Braunfels, named for his hometown in Germany.
Prince Carl chose a hill overlooking the beginnings of the town and began his plan to build a castle on the site. His home was to be called Sophienburg — Sophie's Castle — for his fiancée, Lady Sophia, Princess of Salm-Salm. He returned to Germany to bring Sophia to Texas, but she refused to leave.
Prince Carl chose his fiancée over Texas and stayed in Germany to marry Sophia. He never returned to Texas. Today the Sophienburg Museum and Archives stands on the hill chosen long ago by Prince Carl.1