Saturday, September 29, 2012

1718-1720 Water Street

Constructed no later than winter of 1928, this building at the corner of Water and H Streets is currently vacant.  It has had two different house numbers in its history--1718 and 1720 Water.
A commercial building with attached living quarters, the roofline of a small house can be seen.

In January 1928, Arthur K. Hammond and his wife sold this plot of land to J. R. Jennings. The first newspaper record of a building on this lot is in March 1928, when Sparkman's Kerrville Gulf Filling Station is mentioned in a newspaper ad.  By May 1929, Florence Robinson, a widow, had taken over the business, which she called Sparkman Place.
The 1930 census shows that she rented the property at 1720 Water Street for $20 a month. Living with her were two sons, Bowman and Guy, as well as a boarder, James Trainer, proprietor of a filling station. This no doubt was the filling station she operated.
In October the same year the Kerrville Fish and Oyster Market opened here. The fish market may have been an adjunct to the gas station.
In September 1932 she bought the land that lay under her business from J. R. Jennings. The property was sold three years later and had several owners afterwards.

In early October, 1934, a young boy by the name of Gerald Eric Vallier, whose family then lived here, dashed into Water Street into the path of a moving car.  He died of his injuries a few days later and was buried on his fourth birthday, October 10, 1934. Within about a year his parents moved to a house on Broadway.
Over the next three decades the property was offered for rent or sale several times, sometimes as a store and filling station with attached living quarters, and sometimes as a five room house with sleeping porch. It appears that during most of this time, the business operated as a corner store and filling station with the family living behind the store.

In 1965 Roy Pruneda made additions to the building and opened the Acapulco Restaurant, later known as El Azteca.  The restaurant closed about 1993 and was followed by a series of other Mexican restaurants.

Its most recent use was the Bandidos Motorcycle Clubhouse, 2005-2006.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

213 C Street

This tiny house was the home of Leonard LeBlanc and family from 1934 to 1942. A native of Louisiana, he was a ward attendant at the government hospital (now the VA Hospital).

In 1934, Leonard LeBlanc bought the property from the heirs of Thomas Frayne for $400. He appears to have bought vacant land and then built this house on it.

In 1940 the house was valued at $700. He lived here with his wife Ena and four children, ages 2 through 11. Another child was born later that year, making 7 people living in this house!

In 1942 they sold the house to Milton Rabelais and his wife, who lived next door at 215 C.

Today it is a commercial property.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

719 Water Street

This building, now Baublit's, was originally part  of the Arcadia and was divided later.
Many original features of the Arcadia Theater, including the tile floor, are visible in this shop.

The floor tiles, shown here, were Tarascan-made in Patzcauro, Michoacan, Mexico.

The original tile floor
I've been told that at one time this was the entrance to the Cascade Pool.

Above the base of the stairs to the second floor is a hand-painted sign for the Guadalupe Cafe.  This was the outside wall for the popular restaurant before the theater was erected in 1926.  The Guadalupe Cafe closed in 1932.
The Cafe building was two story.  A door to access that second story is visible today outside.

The first business to occupy this space was the Arcadia Coffee Nook, which opened July 1, 1926, Mrs. Nita Ahrenbeck, owner.
She sold the business to Mr. and Mrs. Roy Morris in September, 1927, who began to advertise "Special Mexican Dinners And Mexican Dishes Every Saturday".  The cafe closed in early 1928.

It was followed by the Revigator sales office.  In the Kerrville Mountain Sun, March 29, 1928, appeared the following announcement: "We Are Permanently Located in the Arcadia Theatre Building (Ground Floor) Will Open Friday, March 30th.  You Are Invited to Come in and Drink (Free) Radio-Active Water From the Re-vig-a-tor at All Times. Radium Ore Re-Vig-a-tor Sales Co. of Kerr County, A. L. Butler, Rep."

The Radium Ore Revigator was a pseudo-medical device consisting of a ceramic water crock lined with radioactive materials.  Water was stored overnight then consumed the next day.  It was claimed to treat a wide range of conditions such as senility, arthritis, and flatulence.

The building when it housed Custer's Last Lunch Stand
A variety of other businesses operated here later, including Kerrville Realty in the 1940s and 1950s, followed by Meek Real Estate until 1973.
In 1974 Ken & Mary's "Now" Shop moved in and was here until January 1979, followed by The Peddler's Cart craft shop.  A series of lunch places with catchy names such as Custer's Last Lunch Stand (1983-1991), Water Street Baking Co. (1991-1994), and Your Favorite Hero (1994-about 1996) followed.  It has been home to Baublit's Jewelers since 1998.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A history museum in Kerrville?

This neoclassical house at 425 Water Street in Kerrville is known as the Calcott-Vann-Schreiner house and now serves as the Kerr Regional History Center. The History Center is a branch of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library and is home to the Kerrville Genealogical Society.
UPDATE:  As of September 8, 2014, the Kerrville Genealogical Society is no longer associated with the History Center.

Architect Atlee Ayres designed the house for Whitfield Scott Schreiner, grandson of Capt. Charles Schreiner. Construction began in 1914.  The house was designed with ten rooms, each having four windows, making the rooms light and bright.  
In 1927 the Schreiners sold the house and moved to an estate west of town. City manager Sealy Cone then lived here several years before selling the house to W. W. Vann who in turn sold it to his son-in-law George Calcott.  The Calcotts were the last family to reside in the house. They sold the property about 1969 to the H E Butt Foundation which leased it out to non-profits.  Today the house is owned by the city of Kerrville and is dedicated to history, genealogy, and archives.

There has been much discussion of late within the local history community about establishing a museum.  Some have suggested buying the Comparette House and the old Tivy Hotel and establishing a museum there at the corner of Jefferson and Tivy Streets.  On the surface it sounds like a grand idea!  The Tivy Hotel could continue to be rented out for income for a while and the focus could be on the Comparette House.  However, the Comparette House has sat empty for several years and has been heavily vandalized, meaning it will be even more expensive to restore than it should be.  Many of us are worried about it. Some have talked about finding an angel to rescue the house before it's too late.  Wonderful if that could happen!  But, it would be very expensive to purchase the properties, make all the necessary repairs, and then maintain them.  Plus, volunteers and staff would have to be recruited.  A facility that large would demand full-time employees.

I think there is another, more realistic, alternative.

Kerr County needs a history museum, but we don't need to start with a grand Smithsonian-type facility. We would be setting ourselves up for frustration and failure.   Experts will tell you it is better to start small and then grow.   
The first floor of the History Center building is used for genealogical and historical research. The upstairs is used for storage, but is mostly empty.  I think the second floor of the Kerr County History Center would be an ideal space to start a history museum.  The large room upstairs could be an exhibit area and an adjacent sunroom a touch gallery for children.  Two of the additional rooms could be use for shared storage space by the genealogy society  and museum, leaving one additional room for expansion. There would minimal expenses because the house is already owned by the City of Kerrville, and there is already a dedicated set of volunteers keeping the house open five days a week.  The one obvious problem is accessibility. There is not yet a working elevator, however there is an elevator shaft with wiring, just waiting.
Consider that the Calcott-Vann-Schreiner house will be 100 years old in 2014.  Would it be possible to open a small local history museum here by 2014 to mark the building's centennial?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Old Courthouse Fence

While this may appear to be a photo of the Union Church at the intersection of Broadway, Water, and Travis Streets, it's actually a photo of the newly installed gates, part of a project to install an historic iron fence around the church.

This fence once surrounded the 1886 courthouse.
The San Antonio Daily Light, May 19, 1904, reported the big news from Kerrville: "The new courthouse fence has arrived and is being put into position."  I haven't found the contractor's name yet.  The old court minutes, which should reveal that information, are on-line, but they are very difficult to read. I may have to make a trip to the courthouse to look at the original records.

The fence was only in place 21 years.  The May 14, 1925, Kerrville Mountain Sun reported "The Commissioners authorized the removal of the fence around the court house and instructed Commissioner Beitel to dispose of same."  The fence sections then surrounded a private home for many years.  The sections were recovered and plans made several years ago to place the historic fence around the Union Church.  Lack of funding delayed the project.

The Friends of the Kerr County Historical Commission is seeking donations to complete the restoration of the fence.  You are invited to contribute.
For more information about the Union Church and the Old Courthouse Fence go to

In the meantime,  you can enjoy the graceful fence gates when you drive by.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Friedman Building

This hollow tile and stucco building at 812 and 814 Main Street was erected in 1939 by Mary  Friedman.  The first tenant, at 814, was Durrin's Confectionery, operated by Charles Durrin.  The shop featured a soda fountain and "private booths". The architect was A. W. Malin, the general contractor W.W. Miller & Son.
There had been a two-story frame store building at 812 Main St. which was the home of Samuel and Mary Friedman. It appears that they lived upstairs and rented out the first floor for commercial use.   The last retail occupants in the old building were Van's Sign Shop and one of the two locations of City Produce Market. In 1938 that building was sold to Fred Evertson, who moved it from the site. The November 10, 1938, Kerrville Mountain Sun said "The old frame house was declared to have been a landmark for more than four decades."
The "landmark building" that was removed was the original location of Florence Butt's grocery store. I haven't found mention of where the house was moved to.  Do any of my loyal readers know?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Aubey Building

When I went to take a photo today, I found that the plate glass window was boarded up.  I'll take another when it's replaced.  I wanted to have this blog entry follow the Pachek house.

This building at 809 Main Street, Kerrville, between Earl Garrett and Washington Streets, was constructed for Gertrude Aubey, wife of Horace Aubey, in 1939.   She had previously been married to, and widowed by, Cleve Wheelus, whose studio was next door.
The contractor was P. M. Wright.
Marguerite Pachek had been the pharmacist at Pampell's.  In 1939 she and her husband, Joe, opened Pachek's Plaza Drug in this building.  The Kerrville Seafood Market, owned by Horace Aubey, was also in the building.  Plaza Drug was here about 10 years, then moved around the corner to Earl Garrett Street across from the current location of the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center.  Today the building houses professional offices.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

501 Florence Street

This rock house in Westland Addition, built in 1929, now houses Texas State Optical. Originally it was the home of Marguerite and Joe Pachek.  The other side of this house, shown below, will be more familiar to most.

When Pampell's added a pharmacy department in the 1920's, Miss Marguerite Fussell was the first pharmacist hired.  She later married Joe Pachek.  In 1939, the Pacheks opened their own pharmacy, Plaza Drug, at 809 Main Street.  They moved the pharmacy to 233 Earl Garrett Street July 1, 1950.
1932. From the  Kerr History Center collection

Saturday, September 1, 2012

317 A Street


1988 photo, Kerr County Historical Commission collection
This cottage at 317 A Street, Kerrville, features decorative shingles of a type more typical of a folk Victorian. However, this house actually dates to 1923.

This was the home of Paschal L. "Pack" and Helen White. They were the first tenants and lived here many years.
In January 1953, White retired from the VA Hospital after 33 years of service (the first few years in Houston).    He came to work in Kerrville in 1923.  White died in Kerrville in 1967 and is buried at Glen Rest Cemetery. His widow, who survived until 1992, is buried beside him.

Today this is a commercial property.