Wednesday, August 29, 2012

W. G. Garrett, Jr. House

Described as a "five-room cottage at the junction of Broadway and Main Street", this late Victorian house at 1105 E. Main Street, was erected in 1912 for Mary and William G. Garrett, Jr. The name of the contractor, as reported in the San Antonio Express for Feb. 12, 1912, was W. L. Council, inc.
They were married June 9, 1912 and owned this home for the rest of their lives.  W. G. Garrett, Jr. died in 1965 and Mary in 1981. They are buried at Glen Rest Cemetery.
William G. Garrett, Jr. was a brother of Earl Garrett for whom the street is named.

Today it houses BCFS Health and Human Services.

UPDATE:  On January 22, 2016, this home was demolished by the Cailloux Foundation who were the new owners.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Street Name Changes

Most people who have lived in Kerrville more than a few days know that three streets in the city were named for three young men who lost their lives in World War I.
Mountain Street became Earl Garrett Street; Lytle Street, which was the heart of the old Mexican business district, became Francisco Lemos Street; and, we can be especially grateful that the difficult-to-spell Tchoupitoulas Street became Sidney Baker Street! 

These are not the only streets that have had a name change.
There was a street on the east side of town formerly known as Garrett Street.  The Garrett Street name had to be changed to avoid confusion with Earl Garrett Street, so it took the name Lytle after the original Lytle Street became Francisco Lemos Street.
Houston Street, on the western edge of downtown, became Rodriguez Street. 
A section of the old Junction Road became Guadalupe Street when the Junction Highway was straightened out.
Broadway may have carried the name Main Street for a while.
Do my readers know of others?

There are also streets that have disappeared, one being Pecan Street, which ran off Lytle Street (now Lemos) by the river, about where the Riverside Nature Center is today.

I have seen several references in old newspapers to the Turtle Creek Road river crossing near Kerrville.  Today's Lower  and Upper Turtle Creek Roads do not cross the Guadalupe. Did today's Bandera Highway once carry the name Turtle Creek Road for part of its length?  I'm guessing the river crossing was at G Street (which appears on an undated, mid-20th century map as the Old Medina Road.)
Perhaps a reader can confirm that for me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

217 B Street

1932.  Kerr Regional History Center collection

This small  house is a commercial property today, but it  once  was a residence. I've seen a statement on-line that it was constructed circa 1903, but I don't think it's that old. More likely it's 1923.  This is a craftsman bungalow, which didn't really appear in this area for a few more years.
In September 1929, the house was old enough that when it was advertised for rent, it was  described as"well furnished, interior recently renovated".
It was owned by Lewis and Lucille Eldridge in 1930.

Yes this is the same house, just at different angles. Note the clip at the end of the roofline, known as a jerkinhead or clipped gable, and the shed roof over the porch.   I may have to go take another photo so it's more apparent.

This area of town, just to the southeast of the historic downtown, along the river, was along the main route to San Antonio so settled early.  With the arrival of the automobile in the early 20th century, it quickly moved from residential to mixed use, with a number of businesses to serve the tourist trade.   It continues to be mixed commercial and residential area today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kerr County Courthouse

As I was preparing a program on historic houses of Kerrville (or "vintage houses" as real estate people like to say), I came across a couple of references to a courthouse fire in 1926.   According to these sources, the 1886 courthouse burned in 1926, which was why the current courthouse was erected. This surprised me, so I went to and did some reading in old Kerrville newspapers. 

I learned that by 1925 the 1886 courthouse was separating in places and needed major repairs.  Commissioners also expressed concern that because there was no fireproof vault, a fire could cause loss of records.  After several months discussion, a bond issue for a new, more secure, courthouse with fireproof vault was approved in December 1925.
Construction began in 1926.  When the courthouse was finished, the records were successfully transferred from old to new.

The old courthouse was taken down in the fall of 1927 and into the late winter 1928.  It took several months.

The Kerrville Mountain Sun, January 26, 1928 reported  "[c]rushed stone from the old courthouse and jail buildings will be used as base materials for the drives and parkway" (of the new courthouse.)
There was a proposal to use the old lumber from the courthouse to build a gymnasium at Tivy.  

Schreiner University's stone wall came from the old courthouse and jail.
The March 1, 1928, Kerrville Times listed all the people who bought salvaged material from the old courthouse and jail. There was a lot of salvage.
There was a lot of detail about the construction of the new courthouse and the demolition of the old, but I don't find anything, anywhere, in any newspaper, about a courthouse fire. If there were a fire, you'd think it would be in the paper.  It just didn't happen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

800 Barnett Street

Known for 35 years as the "Girl Scout house", this lovely Victorian house at 800 Barnett Street was sold in 2009 to the H E Butt Foundation. The owners were a group of former Girl Scout leaders who had formed a non-profit  and purchased the house in 1974 specifically for the use of Girl Scouts in Kerrville. They called it the Green Umbrella Corporation.

Lee Wallace built this home in 1910. He served as Kerr County Judge from 1906-1918 and 1920-29.  Wallace was County Judge when the current courthouse was erected in 1926.

Wallace served 31 years in public office, and 21 years as County Judge. He was twice married but had no children.  Although at his death at the age of 85, he was described as one of Kerrville's more colorful figures, he is mostly forgotten today.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Signs Around Town; or, How to Make One's Mark.

I'm working on several historical projects  at the moment and have gotten a little behind in posting on this blog.  I hope to get back to posting more regularly soon.
When I was in grad school we were taught that renovations to commercial buildings often only made changes to the ground floor.  If you looked up you could learn a lot about the building's history. I would add that looking down also yields clues to the past. 

In Kerrville there are many signs of the past around town, not just old buildings, but real signs. Four are shown here.  It might be fun to point these out to your children or grandchildren.  
This first sign is you may have already seen on this blog. It's the tile entry for the one story annex to Pampell's.  Once there was a jeweler here.  It wasn't the first business, but it's the one remembered.

The next sign is embedded in the step at the corner entrance to Francisco's restaurant in the Weston Building at the corner of Earl Garrett and Water streets. This sign is the reason the building is known as the Weston building instead of the Barlemann building. Charles Barlemann erected the building, but C. T. Weston, who owned it later, is the one we remember.

This is a sign you have to know about to find.  Hart's law office is upstairs over Baublit Jewelers at 719 Water Street. This sign is at the base of the stairs and can be seen through the glass door.

The Guadalupe Cafe on Water Street was a popular restaurant from 1920 until 1932, when Bill Saludis bought it and combined Bill's Lunch Room and the Guadalupe Cafe into the Manhattan Cafe.  The building the Guadalupe Cafe was in was torn down when the Chas. Schreiner Bank expanded into modern facilities. That building later housed the Bank of America until it moved to Main Street in June 2012. The only remaining part of the building that housed the cafe is this wall.   

Here we have one more sign, perhaps the most familiar of all of these. This sign over the entrance to the now-closed Arcadia Theatre on Water Street has been promising coming attractions for many decades.  The theater closed in 1988.  It is awaiting new life. Until recently, the theater was being renovated, but work has now stopped, hopefully only temporarily. This is not the first attempt at restoring or renovating this historic theater.  Can we hope that something will indeed be coming soon?