Castro Colonies Living History Center Preservation Texas's Honor Award
Biry House 2022
The Honor Award for the restoration of the Biry House at the Biry-Ahr Property in Castroville, Texas was presented to the Castro Colonies Heritage Association and the City of Castroville at Preservation Texas’s Central Texas Regional Preservation Summit in San Marcos on September 21, 2023. The Biry House was previously included on Preservation Texas’s Most Endangered Places list in 2005. "The restoration of the Biry House will not only protect an important piece of Texas history, but also contribute to the economic and cultural development of Castroville as home to the Castro Colonies Living History Center,” said Evan Thompson, Executive Director of Preservation Texas. “We are proud to share this project as an example of what can be accomplished by local groups that are dedicated to preserving their community’s heritage." Presented every other year, Preservation Texas Honor Awards recognize outstanding efforts to restore, preserve, rehabilitate or reconstruct historic places that have been individually included on Preservation Texas's Most Endangered Places list or relate to a previous statewide thematic endangered listing. This year’s Honor Awards celebrate the remarkable efforts made by individuals, organizations, and communities to rehabilitate once imperiled historic places, breathing new life into cherished structures while honoring their historical significance and architectural integrity.
From Left to Right: Kate Johnson, Board of Directors, Preservation Texas; Phil King, City of Castroville; Mary King, Castro Colonies Heritage Association; Rosanne Fohn, Castro Colonies Heritage Association; Joe Fohn, Castro Colonies Heritage Association; Samantha Hunick, Central Texas Program Officer, Preservation Texas
In the mid-1840s, immigrants from the Alsace region of France began to settle in Medina County, bringing their unique Alsatian culture to Castroville. The Biry House, located 309 Paris Street, was built between 1847 and 1849 by Jacob Biry. It is an excellent, intact example of early Alsatian immigrant architecture. The house was built of local limestone stacked with a lime-based mortar. It was constructed room by room over a period of several years, and consists of two front rooms, a rear lean-to and a loft. Around 1970, the house was abandoned and began to suffer from deterioration due to neglect. By the early 2000s, the house was in such a state of disrepair that it was condemned to be demolished; however, thanks to the advocacy of the Castro Colonies Heritage Association, the property was purchased by the city of Castroville in 2006. In the following years, the Association worked alongside the city to restore the Biry House to its original appearance. The property now serves as a living history center that tells the story of Alsatian pioneers in Castroville.
Biry House 2005
Biry House Interior 2022
Project Architect: Tom Roby, Roby Architects Project Engineer: Kenneth Struzyk, PE, AccuTech Consultants, LLC Project Contractors: John Friesenhahn, Keystone Construction; Guy Chipman, Guy Chipman Construction, L.P.; Curtis Hunt, Curtis Hunt Restoration, Inc. and Remodeling