July, 2010The Friends of the Cibolo Wilderness, which oversees the Cibolo Nature Center, has received a grant for $100,000 from the Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston to aid in the purchase of the 62-acre Herff Farm, one of the most historic homesteads in the Boerne area.
In 2007, The Friends of the Cibolo Wilderness began acquisition of the Herff Farm, which lies adjacent to the Cibolo Nature Center, as part of its efforts to protect and preserve land and water for people and wildlife.
The farm was established in 1852 by pioneer surgeon Dr. Ferdinand Herff (1820-1912), who acquired large tracts of land at the confluence of Menger and Cibolo creeks. Eventually, the farmstead grew to be 10,000 acres. Herff was one of the original founders of Bettina in 1847, an early German settlement in the Hill Country, and, later, was a founder of Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio. Based in San Antonio, he maintained the farm as a summer home until 1894, when his son, Charles, moved from San Antonio to manage the property until the early 1920s.
In 1935, George and Erma Rozelle purchased 68 acres from Charles Herff’s son. The property was last occupied in the mid-1980s. The family home, a two-story, limestone structure built in 1883, remains intact along with agricultural and domestic structures. The property was in a prime location for development until The Friends of the Cibolo Wilderness secured the land.
The Herff Farm is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places and was named this year as among Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places by Preservation Texas.
Carolyn Chipman Evans, founding director of the Cibolo Nature Center, notes that The Friends of the Cibolo Wilderness has raised more than half of the farm’s total land cost of $2.2 million. “We are extremely grateful for this grant from the Brown Foundation, which comes at a critical time,” she said. “We are now in the crucial phase of raising the last dollars needed to complete this important acquisition.”
Evans said the Herff Farm is important not only for its historic and cultural significance, but as an important natural area. “Along with the Cibolo Nature Center and other protected lands, the Herff Farm is a key element in protecting the watershed for Cibolo Creek,” she said.
The Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne is located on 162 acres of natural lands at Boerne City Park off Highway 46 just west of the Kendall County Fairgrounds. The Cibolo Nature Center’s mission is conservation of natural resources through education and stewardship. Learn more at www.cibolo.org.