In an un-airconditioned hospital room at the Klinik of Bad Windsheim, Germany, my husband, Vince, and I greeted our first born son. We arrived for the scheduled c-section to a building that stood only blocks from a shady local park, Kurpark, which mostly consisted of wooded paths connected by lush patches of grass. At the time, Vince was stationed at a nearby military base as a Warrant Officer in the Army.
I remember the corner food truck that served authentic gyro’s made with shaved curried lamb, topped with feta cheese and locally-grown onions. I had craved those gyros about as much as I did a Nacho Bell Grande from the Taco Bell on another military base in Wurzburg. But if we wanted something more Parisian, it was just a train ride away to France. And it’d be in Paris that I unknowingly ate an escargot salad before realizing the little pieces on top were actually snails.
Besides traveling the world and eating various cuisines, it was here in the Hopkins County area that we’d find the roots we had longed for. A place of friendships and nostalgia that only comes from being somewhere long enough to build year after year of memories. We moved here at the end of 2008. And once here, we discovered a beautiful community of people that rivaled any of the majestic sights we witnessed overseas. On a farm where we raise a mix of Angus and Longhorns, three farm cats, one stray cow dog, and two spoiled mini Australian shepherds that love ice cubes, we have also raised our boys.
Shortly after we arrived, Sulphur Springs received a revitalization of the downtown area, which later became the 2019 Silver Medalist winner for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) program. Any time I visit the square, I notice how it resembled something out of Europe.
Here are 8 ways that Sulphur Springs resembles a Bavarian village in Germany.
1. Quaint Cobble-stoned Squares & Water Fountains. Walk down any square in a Bavarian village and you’ll most likely find an impressive Rathaus (city or town hall) like this one in Bad Windsheim, Gemany. And although Sulphur Springs may not have cobble-stones, our park-like square consists of picturesque brick streets. Here resides the historic sandstone Courthouse that anchors our downtown, dazzling newcomers with its grand porticos and unique architecture. You can also pick one of many benches under a maple tree to relax or sit near the Veteran Memorial Wall with its soothing water feature after reading the list (etched in granite) of those who died for freedom. Or bring the kids to cool off on muggy summer days, watching as they run through the water splash pad. And only a block away, sits the Sulphur Springs City Hall with arched entryways and impressive columns to the east and a bubbling water fountain on the south open-air patio. Our square scores high points for quaintness.
2. Castles. Well, sort of. We don’t exactly have a castle, castle. But have you seen the Sulphur Springs Courthouse? According to TripAdvisor, “Texas has a plethora of unique and beautiful historic courthouses, but Sulphur Springs rates right up there at the top.” Many visitors (and residents) say that this red sandstone 1890’s building gives off all the castle feels with face carvings, central bell tower, and arched windows.
3. Unique Guest Lodging. In Germany they used to call them Gast house (guest houses), which basically operated like an Air BnB or a Bed-n-Breakfast. Sometimes the rooms being over the restaurant. Here we have the Oaks Bed and Breakfast. Downtown also offers various forms of lodging over shops and restaurants or in a Victorian house like this one just off the square.
4. Café’s & Coffee shops. Café’s and coffee shops dot Bavarian villages along the narrow streets. Inside the shop, you’ll find lightly-sweetened pastries, cakes, expressos, and coffees. And good luck trying to tell your American, English-speaking friend the name of said café. Downtown Sulphur Springs offers similar amenities where visitors or residents can find various places to eat or sip a latte’. Not to mention other places off the square, out and about the city.
5. Historical churches. In Rothenburg, Germany you have the St. James Church or St. Jacobs Church, pic both iconic landmark places for worship. And here in Sulphur Springs in the late 1800’s, a few churches were constructed with their towering peaks and extraordinary details and craftsmanship such as the First Baptist Church and the First United Methodist Church.
6. Gardens & Parks. In Bavaria there are many cloudy days so when the sun makes a full-on appearance, you’ll find neighbors strolling up and down the streets, crowding the city parks. In Sulphur Springs, we have several city parks. From Coleman Park’s waterfall and lake with walking or jogging path, to Buford Park that provides lots of shade and open green space, to the downtown square park-like area with plenty of places to sit.
7. Festivals & Special Holiday Traditions. While Bavaria has its town-wide celebration called Oktoberfest, many of Sulphur Springs residents gather around their large cooking pots hanging over open fires for the locally famous Stew Fest. This draws crowds from the surrounding counties as well. Bavaria also goes big for Christmas with many local places setting up shops for what they call the Christkindlmarkt or the special tourist experience of shopping at Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village. In Hopkins County, several events also bring the locals and out-of-towners together with Christmas Market on Main or the popular and spectacular Lighted Christmas Parade (sponsored by the Lions Club) or at Christmas in Heritage Park.
8. Historical Living Museums. Speaking of parks, Bad Windsheim takes you back 700 years with its Frieland Open Air museum where you can experience village to village homes with thatched roofs and open fire kitchens, feel like. In Sulphur Springs, Heritage Park recreates the pioneer days of settling in the west as you imagine the rough-n-tumble homestead life in Texas.
About the Contributor: Tammy Hendricksmeyer enjoys applying her fifteen-plus years of administrative & software expertise, social media marketing, writing, & graphic design, to the benefit of the Janet Martin Realty team. She has prior experience in owning rental properties (apartments) in Kentucky & Central Texas and briefly was licensed as a realtor in Indiana & Kentucky. No longer a realtor, she now puts her passion for real estate into real estate marketing, content writing, & supporting the realtors (any way she can) at Janet Martin Realty. Tammy and her husband have lived in Europe and Asia before finding their way back to Texas. After her husband retired from the military, they settled on her grandparent’s family farm east of Sulphur Springs.