Monday, October 29, 2012

Meta Paul's Boarding House

This Victorian house on Bushwhack Creek in the Upper Turtle Creek community originally was at 941 Main Street in Kerrville, about where the Catholic school gym parking lot is today.
Built about 1890 for Green and Mollie Coleman, it was moved in 1985 to a rural property where it remains today.   We believe the  black and white photo below, which shows the house in rear view, was taken just before the Armistice Day parade in 1919. 

Here is the house today from a similar view.

This house locally is known as Meta Paul's Boarding House.
Mrs. Paul was the daughter of Henry Henke.  In 1922 her huband, Elo Wied, an auto mechanic in Gonzales, died when a car he was working on fell on him.  At the age of 27 she was now a widow with three young children to support somehow.  She moved back to Kerrville where her father bought the house next door and helped her set up a boarding house.  She later married Henry Paul, and while the marriage ended in divorce in a few years, she was ever after known as Meta Paul.
She was well-known for her excellent cooking, especially her cream puffs. There were wait lists for her two lunch seatings every day.

This house is one of the few remaining houses in Kerr County with any connection to Admiral Chester Nimitz.  Nimitz, who grew up in Kerrville, was first cousin to Meta Paul and visited this house.

This house is my home.  We feel honored to be the caretakers of this very special house.

Friday, October 26, 2012

When Major League Baseball Came to Kerrville

Kerrville Athletics, from the Kerr County Historical Commission Collection
My purpose on this blog has been to tell the stories of the built environment in Kerr County.  I have tried to focus on the histories of the buildings and man-made objects that still exist in the county.  But I have found an interesting story about a place that no longer exists, and I don't want to ignore it because of a self-imposed rule.
So today we have a picture of a baseball team rather than the ball park they played on. The story of that team follows, but first ...

I was fascinated to read that the New York Giants and the Chicago White Sox played here in an exhibition game to benefit Legion Hospital on March 19, 1930.  They were in spring training in San Antonio. They took the train from San Antonio, visited at Legion Hospital, lunched at the Blue Bonnet Hotel, played the game, then returned to San Antonio the same day. The White Sox won 9-8. The team managers agreed to play the game in Kerrville on the condition that all disabled ex-servicemen in the U.S. Veterans' Hospital at Legion be admitted without charge.  Tickets for all others were $1 each and all net proceeds went to the emergency relief fund of the local American Legion Post. Some 1500 people attended the game, the only major league game ever played here. For those who want to know further details of the game, the March 30, 1930, Kerrville Mountain Sun, has a full report on page 11. It can be read on-line at

Now back to the photo.  An item in the January 30, 1947, Kerrville Mountain Sun, describes an old photo of a Kerrville baseball team and identifies the men in the photo. I believe it is the same photo as above. The men are: the manager Ernst Schwethelm, the manager Al Manny [who was the pitcher], Eddie Hanson, Charlie Rawson, Caspar Real, Felix Mosel, Emmett Henke, Werner Lochte, "an important catcher", Nick Garcia, and "one of the Mittanek boys".

There were once several baseball clubs in the Hill Country.   The white team from Kerrville, which played in the Hill Country League, was first known as the Kerrville Athletics, and later (from 1931 to 1936) the Kerrville Braves.
The black team was known variously as the Black Athletics (1922-28), Black Bearcats (1928) Kerrville Boosters (1929) AllStars (1929-1933) and the Black Braves (1934-1942). There was also a team in 1946 called the American Legion Black Stars. 

The first mention I could find of a Kerrville baseball team is in the July 11, 1894, San Antonio Daily Light. At first the ball park where they played was on G Street between Water Street and Broadway, about where Culligan's is today.  In 1924 the grandstands and fences were dismantled and moved to a new location at Paschal and McFarland streets. The last year that games were played there was 1946. The old field was then demolished for the new Schreiner Wool and Mohair Commission Warehouse. The old field had been used by both black and white teams, but since, in those years of segregation, whites always had first claim to the park, the black teams rarely got to use it unless they were playing a white team. Eventually a baseball park for their use was established on Webster Street. 
In 1949 a baseball field opened on the old race track at the fairgrounds. A newly organized Kerrville team played one year and was then disbanded.

There was another, later, Kerrville Baseball Park built to support a local team, this one on the Fredericksburg Road (now Sidney Baker St.), mention being made in the papers for a few years beginning in 1956.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beddingfield House

This distinctive large house at 712 Earl Garrett was built in 1937 for J. C. Beddingfield.  It was built with the intention of renting out rooms. This concrete and steel building, designed by architects Malon & Malon, was built at a cost of $5000.  The two story, six-columned portico is reminiscent of Mount Vernon.
It remained in family ownership until 1991.
The property then changed hands a couple of times.

The house was renovated in 2005 by Mark and Linda Stone for Diane and Bob Green.  It now house Kerr County Abstract.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

1700 Water Street

This building is the third of three former gas stations at the intersection of Water and G Streets. It is also the mostly easily recognizable as a former gas station.

This building, home to Edson's Kerrcrafters, was erected in August 1932 as a Gulf filling station.  It replaced an earlier gas station and garage that was destroyed by fire in June of 1932. That station had been operated by Roy Troutner.
At the time of the fire the building was owned by Mrs. P. Ethridge, the land by T. C. and Minnie Staley.
The new one-story frame filling state and auto repair shop was leased to brothers M. P. and Jack Woodward, who ran the business for a while.

Edson's Kerrcrafters was established in 1938 at 1704 Water Street.  Minnie Staley sold this property next door in July 1943 to A. B. Edson and wife who then converted the gas station to a furniture workshop.  The building, expanded over the years, has housed Edson's Kerrcrafters ever since.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1701 Water Street

This building at the corner of Water and G Streets has housed C. T. Robinett Paints since 1969, but originally it was a garage and filling station, one of three at this intersection.
J. C. Adrian and his wife had a home on the banks of the Guadalupe they called Live Oak Hill.
In 1926 they transferred the property to their son Morris, who then sold it to J. G. Cox. Cox was the local Texaco agent, who then erected this building. It was known as the Handy Stop Texaco. A gas station operated here for more than 20 years.
In 1946 Mr. and Mrs. Ned Harrel opened a barbecue stand at the rear of 1701 Water Street serving chickens, goats, and other meats, as well as iced watermelons.  It does not appear have been there long, as only a few ads appeared.
In 1954 there was a secondhand store, which was only there a short time. For most of the next 15 years the building sat vacant until Robinett Paints opened in 1969. It has been expanded and remodeled several times since.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

1621 Water Street

Before the Sidney Baker Street bridge was constructed, the river crossing at G Street was heavily used, much more so than today.  As a result there were once three gas stations at the corner of Water and G Streets.  The intersection was also called at various times, and sometimes concurrently, "Water Street and Medina Road" and "Water Street and Turtle Creek Road".  The fourth corner held the Caroline Courts tourist camp.

The first mention I find in the newspaper of a service station at 1621 Water Street is November 11, 1926, when Linder's Garage "formerly Highway Garage" is mentioned. I don't know how much earlier the Highway Garage had been in business.
On November 25, 1926, the Kerrville Mountain Sun reported that "L. F. Linder, who for the past two months has conducted a filling station at the corner of Water Street and Medina, last week opened a completely equipped garage and service department in connection." Within two years, a lunchroom had opened in connection with the garage. You could have a meal while your car was being serviced.
The last mention of a service station here is in 1935 (although one may have continued longer).  After that a series of cafes and taverns have been housed in this building.  My personal favorite (because of a funny family story involving rabbit) was the Buff Cafe, which opened under new management in April, 1948,  "Mrs. Lee C. Taylor, specializing in Pit Barbecue, Fried Rabbit, and Home Made Pies".  

Today Mulligan's Pub is here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

408 Water Street

ca 1988, Kerr County Historical Commission collection

This house at 408 Water Street was surveyed for the Texas Historical Commission in 1973.  At that time it was described as a "highly ornate Carpenter Gothic of the Late Victorian era." It was said to the  "first frame ell-shaped Victorian cottage. " The description also indicates there was a rear addition, put on before 1973.  The house was remodeled in September 1983.

I had speculated that this house may have been moved to this lot. My reasoning for why is below.

Thanks to Mary Lee Jobes Stewart, I have learned that this house was indeed moved. Her mother Alice Domingues Jobes said that the house was originally on the Louis Schreiner property (where the Butt-Holdsworth library is now).  Mrs. Jobes remembered that the house was cut in two and part moved to this lot.  After looking at Sanborn maps, I now know that it was next to the long building at 433 Water Street that is sometimes referred to at the old Schreiner bowling alley.  That building was moved to 415 Clay in 201l, is now called the Dietert Mercantile, and is once again a retail building.

This house appears on the 1904 Sanborn map as a residential property.  In front of it was the old Dietert Mercantile building. The house and store building are at the foot of Quinlan Street. Sometime around 1916 the house was moved to 408 Water Street  so that a new addition could be put on the back of the Dietert Mercantile building.  At this time the mercantile building became the Schreiner's private bowling alley and a rock fireplace was added.
I am still not sure of the age of this house, but it predates 1904, and is possibly as old as the 1884 Dietert Mercantile building. 

Here is my reasoning for why I thought this house had been moved here:
In 1915 Charles Schreiner sold the lot this house sits on, and the adjoining one, to Dr. William Lee Secor, wife Hattie Secor, and W. L. Council for $550 (an average of $275 each). This price suggests these were vacant lots.
In 1920 Council and the Secors sold just the one lot where this house is to Dr. J. D. Jackson for $3000.  The most reasonable explanation for the large increase in price is that a building now sat on the lot.  Wm. L. Council was a builder and could have erected this building, however he had a distinctive style, one quite different from this house. In addition, by 1915 or so this Victorian style was fading in popularity.

The house has been a commercial property since 1984.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Story of a Shared Wall: Grape Juice and the Rialto

Construction began on this retail building at 623 and 625 Water Street in late 1963.  The Rose Shop, a florist, moved from 304 Main Street into 623 Water Street, the space now occupied by Grape Juice, in February 1964. The Rose Shop was here some 40 years.
The other half the building, 625 Water Street, now called Gather by Grape Juice, housed a number of retail shops over the years.  This building replacing an old house that had seen much service as the home of many small businesses. You can see the corner of that house in the photo below.

While at the time I write this most of the building is not quite 50 years old, a portion of it is. And that is really the story.
Between Grape Juice and the Herring Printing Co. is a parking lot which is the former site of the Rialto Theater, shown here.  The outside wall of 623 Water Street that runs along the parking lot was originally part of the Rialto, erected in 1938. When the new building was erected, it was simply attached to the theater building instead of constructing a new wall. As a result, when the theater was taken down, this one wall survived. The former exterior portion of the wall of the theater now faces the interior of the restaurant and wine shop.  Look carefully at the hollow tile wall of the theater.  The next time you go to Grape Juice you will see the same blocks in the wall.

Today along the outside wall can be seen the outline of the stairs that went to the balcony--a reminder of the segregation era.  During the unfortunate Jim Crow era of enforced segregation, the balcony was the only place in the theater blacks could sit to watch a movie.
The Rialto was demolished in 1974.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Luis' Place

Although most of the old commercial buildings are gone, and the few remaining are mostly shuttered, Francisco Lemos Street was once the bustling heart of Kerrville's Mexican community. This building at 325 Francico Lemos Street was Luis' Place, owned by the Espinosa family.   It was a restaurant, and also offered billiards and dominoes.
It was in business by 1933 and continued until at least 2002.  The last mention in the newspaper is when the restaurant held a fundraiser for victims of the July 2002 river flood.

Before Luis' Place there was a restaurant called El Felix that may have been at this location. It ran ads in the Kerrville Mountain Sun in January and early February 1933, then disappeared from the record.
It advertised thus: "El Fenix Restaurant and Grocery, Lemos Street--opposite Castillo's.  Theo, well known cook, will have charge of the kitchen.  Mexican dishes served at exceptionally low prices."

Castillo's general store, which was originally at 306 Lemos, moved to 328 Lemos in 1931 putting it directly across from this building, thus my thinking that El Fenix may have become Luis' Place.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Max Grona House

This house at 328 Jefferson Street, corner of Hays Street, was built 1890 for Max Grona, blacksmith and wheelwright.   
ca 1988--View from Jefferson Street--Kerr County Historical Commission Collection
Born in Germany, Max Grona came to Texas at the age of two. His parents worked on a ranch near Fredericksburg, where he learned his trade. 
Grona settled in Kerrville where he became a respected member of the community.  He was elected a Kerrville city alderman in 1896 and again in 1908.
His shop on Water Street, known as Grona & Ely, was forced to close in 1926 when the Bluebonnet Hotel was built on the site.  Unwilling to retire, he moved his shop behind his home.  According to his obituary, his health began to fail, so he was unable to do much work.  However, the new shop was a favorite spot for old friends to gather to reminisce and play dominoes.  He died in 1939 at the age of 83 and is buried at Glen Rest.

It is now the Board of Realtors office. Architectural features include an arched dining room entry, Doric columns and a Greek revival style.  It was restored in 1984 under Mike Walker, architect.
ca 1988--View from Hays Street, Kerr County Historical Commission Collection

2011--View from Hays Street
A picture of Max Grona's new blacksmith shop--the one behind his house where the dominoes games took place--can be seen at Joe Herring's blog at