The Henne family, consisting of Johann, Henriette, and five year old Louis, moved to New Braunfels in 1846 from the Hanover district in Germany. After purchasing a lot on West San Antonio Street, Johann established a tinsmithing business. Upon his death 11 years later in 1857, the business was handed down to then 17 year old Louis Henne who renamed it the Louis Henne Company and diversified the business line, creating the company that is still around today.
Over the next several decades Louis build up the company, constructing two Henne buildings at 246 and 270 W San Antonio Street and acquiring adjacent properties as well as property near the railroad for the lumber yard. The company provided a variety of services to the residents of New Braunfels, producing and selling products such as: tin goods, lumber, buggies and wagons, stoves, and general hardware. It is said that the front porch of Henne Hardware was always a popular part of town.
In 1893, the present Henne Building at 246 W. San Antonio St. was constructed. The main floor housed Henne & Tolle, combining Henne's hardware with Tolle's (Louis' brother-in-law) dry goods. The second floor housed the Buggy and Carriage Repository, where buggies and carriages were stored, assembled, and sold. In 1911, the building was renovated with major changes including moving the staircase from the center of the building to its present location, constructing the storefront windows, and installing the wall display cases.
When Louis Henne died in 1912, his son Adolph took over managing the business until his death in 1946. Three of Adolph's sons then ran the business until 1973, when it was sold out of the family. Succeeding owners have operated the business much as it was operated under the Hennes; today it is the oldest hardware store in Texas and on of the oldest continually operating businesses in the country.
Over the years the pieces of the Henne legacy were divested until the only real estate left is the property at 246 W. San Antonio St. and 221 W. Mill St. Little of the old stock and furnishings remain. The Henne building does remain however, its beautiful architectural features and fixtures, such as the tin ceiling, wood floors, built in oak-and-glass display cases, rolling ladders, and parquet flooring in the show windows, standing the test of time.
Out-of-town visitors to Henne Hardware are generally awe-struck at the step back in time they experience when entering the building. Many are amazed at the breadth of inventory and the old-fashioned service they receive. Henne is known around town as the go-to place when you can't find something you're looking for and we try our best to deliver, providing products that are hard to find and maintaining one of the largest selections of nuts and bolts in the area.
The future of Henne Hardware and other small, local businesses is in the hands of the people of New Braunfels. There is no lack of interest in the building or property, but very few are interested in running a hardware business, no matter how historically important. Our resources go into improving the inventory and services of Henne Hardware, the institution. We have striven to be good neighbors, allowing public access to most of our parking areas and providing goods, services, expertise, and time to new and existing businesses. We hope that more of the public acquires an appreciation of what they have in Henne Hardware and helps us keep it the tradition it has become.
We thank the people of New Braunfels for their continued and continuing support.