Friday, June 7, 2013

Westland Addition

There are still buildings closer to downtown to research and write about, and I'll get back to those, but today I'm going to move further afield and explore the Westland Place Addition, which runs northwestward more or less between Junction Highway and Town Creek.  Some of the streets are West Main, West Water, Cox, Elm, Cottage, Lewis, and Woodlawn.

Westland Place, a planned automobile suburb, was developed northwest of downtown Kerrville beginning in 1925. Kerrville was booming, with the population increasing from 2,300 in 1920 to 4,000 in just five years.  Much of this growth was undoubtedly due to the new VA hospital at Legion. In addition, as automobiles became more affordable, more and more people owned them. It was easier for people to get around and they began to move away from the commercial area. Folks no longer needed to be within walking distance of their place of business. The time was right for this new project.

The new subdivision was heavily advertised in the local papers. As you see here, the first lots were sold at auction Thursday, May 7, 1925.  The Kerrville Mountain Sun, April 30, 1925; reported its development this way, "This addition, called 'Westland Place', is a part of the Lewis tract, recently purchased from D. R. Lewis by a party of Kerrville men, composed of E. Galbraith, W. A. Fawcett and J. L. Pampell, who have since then taken E. H. Prescott and Hal Peterson in on the proposition. Only a part of the tract is being placed on the market at this time, the balance to be developed later." The men organized as Kerrville Development Company. The newspaper reported that one contract had already been let for a home, which was to begin construction the end of the week.
The auction was conducted by Auctioneer A. Harris, known as "Last Minute Harris".  He had a reputation of selling 237 lots in 180 minutes in a similar event and planned to conduct this auction with similar vigor.  Automobiles shuttled buyers to the development and back, a band provided music, and $300 in gold was given away.
At first access was from the extension of Water Street.  The subdivision featured gravel streets, sewers, water, electric lights, and telephone service. Early photographs also show sidewalks.
Commercial development is encroaching on the edges, but there are many original homes, some nearly 90 years old, still standing.

This neighborhood has enough architectural integrity and age to qualify for listing--as a neighborhood--on the National Register of Historic Places. 
When I say that, it makes people nervous, because they believe they will lose property rights.  In fact, there are no Federal or state laws limiting property rights if your property is on the National Register.  In some cities, there are local regulations, but I don't think that is the case in Kerrville. Listing does not even prevent demolition, but the historic designation would be lost in that instance. 
Click here to learn more about National Register listings. 

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