Wednesday, December 30, 2015

424 Tivy Street

House near completion, 1948
This house was built by hand by Mrs. Nettalie Russell Bateman in the late 1940s. The story of the construction of 424 Tivy Street is told in the Kerrville Mountain Sun of June 10, 1948, based on a story in the Houston Chronicle written by Mrs. J. L. Shanklin of Kerrville. It also appeared in the Canton (TX) Herald because she had once lived there, "leaving in 1930."

Joe Herring wrote about the house in the May 9-10, 2009, Kerrville Daily Times. This column does not appear on his blog, but it can be read on-line here. (Alternatively, the original story from 1948 can be read at or  Both are subscription sites.) Some of this was taken from that column. The original story is quite entertaining. I think I would have enjoyed knowing her!

Nettalie Russell Bateman was born 28 December 1895 in Texas.  In the 1930 census she was living at 3 Bonner Street, Tyler, with her husband J. Kirby Bateman, a dental surgeon.  They had been married 17 years and had no children.  By 1940 they had moved to the Whitesborough Road, also in Tyler.  His 1954 death certificate said he was never married, but that is wrong. They were divorced. When she died the obituary in the New Braunfels Herald Zeitung incorrectly called her his widow.

She enlisted in the Women's Army Corps on 20 October 1943 from Smith County and served in the Engineers Division of the Army Air Corp, Eighth Service Command. While a WAC she dreamed of a house she would one day own. According to her nephew, she was injured in the course of her service, and after her discharge she moved to Kerrville for outpatient care at the VA Hospital. She bought a vacant lot at the corner of Tivy and Garden Streets from G. L. and Iva Richeson. She was unable to find anyone to build her dream house, so she began to do the work herself, donning a parachute suit for protection against the weeds and started clearing the lot.  When she was unable to buy quality lumber for her house, she switched to rock and built her house herself with almost no help—but with lots of sidewalk superintending from the community. It took two years, but she did it.

From Joe Herring's column

City Hall hasn’t changed much ....  According to the story, Mrs. Bateman reported “I was told that I must first have a plumbing permit before I could get a building permit…I finally got a plumbing permit after I haunted a plumber’s shop until he began to suspect that I had taken advantage of the housing shortage and had moved in on him.”
After finally getting the building permit, she spent several days staking off the foundation, which was “L-shaped, 44 feet on one side and 40 feet across the front.”
She dug the foundation herself by hand, often with an audience telling her she was doing it all wrong.
“The day I that I finished the excavating for the foundation, a man from the city hall stopped by…and told me that to conform with a city ordinance, I would have to move the foundation in 10 feet.”
It took 2 weeks to fill in the excavation and dig another 10 feet inside.
Then came construction – which took almost 2 years.   People stopped and asked her what she was doing; in small town Kerrville, in the 1940s, everyone knew she was a divorcee who’d been in the Army.   She told everyone she was building an arsenal.
“Except for several days help from school boys and occasional lifts from old men, she did the entire job herself,” the article concludes. “She wore out more than three dozen pairs of heavy leather gloves, but at the finish there was not a scratch or callus on her hands.”

Then December 1948, after all that work, she sold the property to Frank R. Stevenson and wife. At some point she also enrolled at Schreiner Institute, taking classes and maintaining honor roll status while building this house. She then moved to Austin to enroll at the University of Texas, while also serving as director of Kirby Hall women's dormitory at the university.  After graduation with a Master’s in Speech Therapy she served as a special education teacher in Comal ISD in the 1950s and early 1960s. She died 26 April 1987 in Comal County at her “writer’s cabin” in Dripping Springs

This building was restored in 2009 and continues to serve its original purpose today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oak Park

Oak Park is located between Schreiner University and the VA Hospital. According to descendants of W. L. Council, he and Dr. Wm. L. Secor saw a need for housing the families of men housed at the VA Hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis and in 1924 began developing this community for that purpose.  Many of the houses were one bedroom and very affordable. He and Dr. Secor developed the first water treatment facility for the Kerrville area as well as the first sewage treatment facility.  By 1938 the residents of Legion village and Oak Park were petitioning to be added to the city of Kerrville water system because the four-inch steel pipes were expensive to maintain and repair.

The first mention in the newspaper of Oak Park was on September 18, 1924, when it was recorded that W. L. Council and Wm. Lee Secor sold lots 13 and 14 of block 6, to E. F. Everett, and lots 15 and 16  of block 6 to Fred Kreis, who then immediately resold it to Mrs. Flossie M. Everett.
Both lots and houses were sold.  Many of the houses advertised for sale were 4 room cottages.

In 1925 Council and Secor began advertising "Why Pay Rent?  Pay $10 down and $10 per month and buy a lot! Pay $50 down and $25 per month and build a home!" In addition, they were promoting its healthful elevation, excellent water supply, and beautiful shade trees.

The March 12, 1925, Kerrville Mountain Sun reported on the development of Oak Park. Described as a "real estate proposition of vast proportions", it initially was 58 acres which was augmented by the purchase from E. C. Meeker of between 160 and 200 acres between that development and the city of Kerrville.  It was reported that nearly every original lot was sold and forty homes had been erected. It had its own water supply with mains running to every lot. An electric light plant was also planned.

Advertising also pointed out that Oak Park was NOT Legion.  Oak Park was not on the highway and consisted of home owners, not renters.  Note though that part of Legion Drive is in Oak Park Addition.

Community life developed quickly.  In July 1925 it was announced that a Union Sunday School was being held in Oak Park in an arbor built for the purpose. There were five classes with forty members and occasional preaching.  This appears to be the origin of Oak Park Baptist Church.

On January 11, 1949, an election was held to add over 1000 acres to the Kerrville city limits.  Areas to be annexed included Richards Park Addition, Oak Park Addition, Legion Hospital, Meeker Addition, Mosty Addition, and the City Farm, as well as territory along the Guadalupe River to the south of the city which was described as being more or less between Schreiner Institute and Spur 100.  It was rejected almost four to one.  Oak Park was finally annexed to Kerrville in 1981, adding about 200 households and 135 acres to the city.

For a list of other Kerrville subdivisions, go here.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hal-Bart Addition

This subdivision is named for the developers Hal Peterson and Bart Moore.
Bart Moore first came to Kerrville on a road building contract in February, 1922. They built the highway from Ingram to Junction. When the job was finished he stayed, putting his mark on Kerrville.  He built the Arcadia Theater.

Hal Peterson was a businessman who, among other things, established the Peterson's Garage and Auto Company that in time became the Kerrville Bus Company.  He and his brother Charlie formed a  charitable foundation that established the Sid Peterson Hospital. The foundation's mission expanded later to include other charitable pursuits in the area.

This subdivision is mentioned in one newspaper story from 1947 that said streets in the addition included Circle and Stephen. These today are part of Westland Place.

For a list of other Kerrville subdivisions, go here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Highlands Addition

here.This item has been modified based on reader feedback.

On the same day--within minutes of each other--two people asked about the Highlands Addition to Kerrville so I'll write about this subdivision next.

The first mention of Highlands Addition in the newspaper was on November 24, 1949, when Walter Erma Wenzel sold lot number 7 in block 1, Highlands Addition, to Jesse Leroy Hancock and wife.  On February 21, 1951, a story appeared in the Kerrville Mountain Sun about the growth of the new development, which had been underway for more than two years. Walter Wenzel, a former clothier in Houston, was the project developer.

Walter and Erma Wenzel and children Dolores, Charlotte, and Walton, had moved to Kerrville from Houston in January, 1947, after expansion of the Foley department store forced him to close his clothing store. The February 12, 1948, Mountain Sun reported that Clarence B. Williams sold to Walter Wenzel 95 acres of land in surveys 122 and 123.  This was the beginning of Highlands Addition.* By 1952 there were 14 families living in the development.
The homes "of necessity and for the protection of the builders, must be restricted to certain types".  A natural gas  line had been run, city water lines had been laid, and telephone lines. Residents had septic systems until after 1965, when they were connected to city sewer lines. Most of the streets were paved, but by 1958 they were worn out, at least on Glen Road and East Lane.  To get the streets repaved, the property owners had to agree to an assessment by the city for concrete curb and gutter, and asphalt pavement.
The first house built on the section of Glen Road between Methodist Encampment and East Lane was 1530 Glen Road, which was purchased by Henry Eugene and Esther Stover on February 14, 1950.
Walter Wenzel lived in the neighborhood he developed until his death in 1977, although not in their original house.
At the time it was being developed--one mile outside the city limits, one selling point was that there were no city taxes. That's often a selling point for real estate today!
 Ironically, four years after the first lots were sold, the subdivision was annexed to Kerrville May 22, 1952.

*A story appeared in the March 17, 1949, Mountain Sun reporting on a new 95-acre subdivision being platted adjacent to the city northwest of the Methodist Assembly.  The owner was Rev. A. B. Wagner, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church.  Walter Wenzel was reported to be assisting the owner with the development of the land. This was the same church the Wenzels attended. I think this is the same property that became Highlands, but until I can get to the courthouse and look at the deed records I can't be absolutely certain.

To learn about other Kerrville subdivisions, go here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Motley Hills

The developer of Motley Hills was Delmar H. Motley. This subdivision was developed on land purchased from Schreiner Institute (now Schreiner University) in 1961. The first record of the sale of a lot in Motley Hills is Citriana Development Co. to William C. Kenthick? Jr., and wife who purchased lot 3 in block M of Motley Hills Subdivision. This was reported on the February 7, 1962, Kerrville Mountain Sun. However it was a week later that the Mountain Sun reported the City Council had reviewed the plats.

In October 1963 a rather nice spec house in Motley Hills was advertised for sale for $13,900.  It featured three bedrooms, two tile baths, electric kitchen, central heat and air conditioned, double garage, laundry room, and insulated! Was insulation an unusual feature in a house?

The February 9, 1961, Kerrville Mountain Sun had the following item:
Meeker Land Sold For Subdivision
Delmar Motley of McAllen has purchased nine acres from Burton Meeker near the National Guard Armory and plans to start a subdivision of low cost housing.  Motley said the homes will have brick veneer, have two and three bedrooms, and will sell for less than $10,000.
Then on February 23, 1961,  the following item appeared in the Mountain Sun:
68 Acres Tract Sold To Motley By S. I. Board.
Sale of 68 acres of land to D. H. Motley was announced this week by Dr. Andrew Edington, president of Schreiner Institute.  The land, which lies along Travis Street, adjoining the city limits, was sold for approximately $500 an acre.
Motley, who is from McAllen, plans to start a subdivision on the tract this week end, priced from $8,000 and up.  Motley had previously talked about buying some land from Burton Meeker for the subdivision.

To learn about other Kerrville subdivisions, go here.