Saturday, March 1, 2014

840 Earl Garrett Street

An earlier survey of historic homes in Kerr County called this the Sid Peterson home. One might just as well call it the A. M. Kennedy house.
Its porch architecture, the most notable feature, is described this way: "Classical Revival use of simple double and single Doric columns to create a large southeast porch, a popular form of the early 20th century."

ca 1988. Kerr County Historical Commission Collection.
This house was built for Austin Milton Kennedy in 1914 and was owned by several business and political leaders over the years.  A. M. Kennedy died from tuberculosis on July 19, 1914, before the house was finished.
Austin Milton Kennedy was a Texas state representative and speaker of the Texas House during the 31st legislature (1909-1910).  Sam Rayburn, who later became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was one of his honorary pallbearers.
He purchased a lot 100'x200' from B. F. Hicks on March 23, 1914, for $150 ($50 cash and $150 note) and began work on the house. It appears the house was unfinished when Kennedy died.  On August 7,  three weeks after his death, A.M. Kennedy's widow, Marion, transferred the property "having a residence thereon built by A. M. Kennedy" to James M. Kennedy for $2500 and assumption of the note to B. F. Hicks.  James Kennedy may be a relative, perhaps a brother, but I haven't been able to find A.M. Kennedy in the census before 1900 to determine that.

On October 9, 1919, J. M. and wife Sallie Kennedy sold the property to H. C. Geddie and Lee Wallace for $1800. (Geddie was the mayor of Kerrville and Wallace the Kerr County Judge at the time.) Four days later, Geddie and Wallace sold to Sid and Myrta Peterson for $2,250.  Sid Peterson is the man for whom the local hospital is named.  He and his three sons had heart conditions and knew first hand the difficulty of traveling the 60 miles to San Antonio for anything more than basic medical care.  After he died in 1939, in San Antonio, his sons vowed to build a modern hospital to Kerrville. The hospital admitted its first patients in July 1949.

Sid Peterson had many business interests. He was the founder of Peterson Auto Company and Garage, the Kerrville Bus Company, the American Pure Milk Company, and the Peterson Farm.  He also owned a ranch in Edwards County.

They lived in this house about ten years.  In February and March 1929, Sid Peterson and Newton B. Smith swapped several pieces of property, including an undertaking business and this house, which on March 5, 1929, the Petersons sold to Newton B. Smith for $11,000 "Together with all improvements thereon and all household furniture and fixtures now contained in the dwelling house situated on said land." Smith had been a "popular" undertaker in Kerrville. After the sale he became an agent for the Magnolia Petroleum Company. In 1931 Newton Smith sold to his niece Nelly Smith, who lived with him, a 60'x80' piece of this land.  In 1942 the house was inherited by his daughter Leona Rawson. In December 1943 she sold the property to chiropractor Francis G. Bailey, who moved his office here from 1613 Broadway.

In 1947 a part on the corner of Myrta and Earl Garrett Streets was sold to Sam. H. Taylor and W. B. Priest to build apartments.  In 1959 it was bequeathed to the Methodist Home Foundation. In June 1971 they sold it to Kenneth and Glenda Greeson who owned it until selling it in 2005 to Lifestyle Homes, LLC.  Today it houses small offices.

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