Historic Kerr County photographs available!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Kerr County as seen in Postcards

Kerrville, approaching on State Highway 16, from south of the Guadalupe River
Kerrville, approaching on State Highway 16, from south of the Guadalupe River
Click on any image to enlarge

Heart o' The Hills Inn
A poet once suggested it would be a gift to see ourselves as others see us, though I would likely want to leave that gift unopened, locked in a closet, underneath a tarp or two.
Schreiner's Mill in downtown Kerrville
Schreiner's Mill
Since its earliest days our county has worked to transform how others see it, whether from the exaggerated language of various newspapermen or the efforts of chambers of commerce, service clubs, and even sermons from local pulpits. Like every other community, we want to look good!
One method used to make Kerr County look good is quite clever because it presents a picturesque view of our county and asks others to endorse that view as they share it with others. I enjoy collecting samples of this method, and they do make our community look better.
Postcards showing life here tend to illustrate the good things about our part of the world: the river, examples of local industry, various civic monuments, grand views of hills and sky.
Starr Bryden shot of Texas Highway 16 near Medina
Bryden's of SH 16
Kerrville Cascade Pool
Cascade Pool
The earliest postcards in my collection are printed in black and white, or in a sepia color. Some were printed in Germany, which must have caused a controversy, because others are marked "Not Printed in Germany." Those were printed at the turn of the last century, and they were printed right here in Kerrville. As a printer this made me chuckle, because all of the local printers I know still want everything to be printed here in town.
Inn of the Hills
Postcards showing lodging facilities are quite common in my Kerr County collection of postcards, though even these can tell a story. I have several postcards showing the St. Charles Hotel, which once stood on the corner of Sidney Baker Street and Water Street, opposite Water Street from Pampell's. Until recently the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital stood there; today the site is a parking lot.
Kerrville from Tivy Mountain
Kerrville from Tivy Mountain
The postcards showing the St. Charles are interesting because they document the changes made to the building over time. Built in 1883, the hotel was originally a two-story frame structure. Frame additions were made over time, and then around World War I a third story was added, and the exterior was covered in stucco and made to look more modern. The building was gone by 1936, having stood for around 53 years.
Postcards showing the building range from black and white images to colorized images; some are photorealistic and some are almost abstract, as if they represent the idea of the hotel rather than how the structure actually appeared.
Water Street in Kerrville
Water Street
a poster of this scene is available
by clicking HERE
The Blue Bonnet Hotel in Kerrville
The Blue Bonnet Hotel
Pioneer photographer Starr Bryden also published postcards of the area. While he did offer shots of local landmarks like the post office and various churches, he also published many scenic images of the hill country. Many of his shots were made at great effort, taken from the very top of hills or from the edge of cliffs. Knowing that Bryden had some physical limitations after a fight with tuberculosis, and also remembering the technology with which he worked, these photographs are amazing.
Kerr County Courthouse in 1907
Kerr County's 3rd Courthouse
Early postcards also show local industry. I have several postcards showing wool wagons, where three wagons were hitched together and pulled by a team of oxen or mules. This was the most efficient way to get wool to market from the outlying ranches of our county (and counties nearby); Kerrville was the marketplace for these fibers and also was the railhead for transporting the clips to national markets. I cannot imagine the difficulties the drivers of these wagons faced, traveling over unpaved roads, carrying a ton (or tons) of freight, trying to control the movements of many animals.
West Texas Fair 1907 in Kerrville
West Texas Fair 1907
Many of the local postcards in my collection were never mailed. I suppose they were bought as keepsakes.
Others, though, have short messages to a loved one; with limited space they read like tweets on Twitter. Most of them say a variation of "this place is lovely and I wish you were here, too."
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historical Kerrville and Kerr county items. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 22, 2017.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Kerrville's Ave-Cot Water Thrill Show

A postcard featuring the Ave-Cot Water Thrill Show, late 1950s.
A poster of this image is available by clicking HERE
Click on any image to enlarge
My son and I swam in the river at Louise Hays Park this past Tuesday evening, between the bridge and the dam, where the water is deep. The river temperature was perfect, not too warm or cold. The evening sun was still quite warm, and the cypress trees along the bank cast long shadows across the water. It was a great time to swim, and that is a great place to swim.
Kerrville Louise Hays Park water skier
Skier and boats, after the turn by dam
at Louise Hays Park
After work, in the early evening, that part of the river is not too crowded. There were a lot of kids near the dam, as always. A few adults were in the water, too, including a pair of gentlemen who were testing beverage holders of their own design, made of pieces of styrofoam swimming noodles, held together with zip ties. The two prototypes I saw looked to be performing well.
A pair of teenagers were paddle boarding near us with mixed success. All was going well until the young man attempted to hop from his paddle board to the one his girlfriend was using. Both ended up in the water.
Flag Bearers, Ave-Cot Water Thrill Show
The park itself was busier than it has been in past years: the river trail brings out a lot of folks. We saw people walking dogs, riding bicycles, and in one case, a woman riding a bicycle with a dog in a bag. Both the dog and the woman seemed happy.
That part of the park and that part of the river were tranquil that evening.  Restful.
There was a time, though, when that little stretch of river was quite busy, and a crowd lined the river bank, filling up stone bleachers below the Sidney Baker Street bridge.
Though the lake made by the dam in Louise Hays Park is deep, it's also very narrow. Looking at it today, it's hard to believe this spot was once the venue for a daring water ski show.
Ski boats racing downriver, Louise Hays Park
Ski boats racing downriver,
Louise Hays Park
The Ave-Cot Water Thrill Show was produced by Cotton Eldridge and his wife, Ava, in the late 1950s. During the 1959 July Fourth celebration, hosted by the Kerrville Jaycees, the "Water Thrill Show" was performed nightly, with an advertised price of "50 cents per car," though an afternoon matinee show was free to the public.
"A crowd of about 200 people came away from a preview performance of the Ave-Cot Water Thrill Show impressed by the variety and daring of the acts," one newspaper reported.
"Cotton's jumping boats, which he takes over the ramp and jumps into a circle of fire as a grand finale, are believed to be unique in the water show field.
"Star of the show, besides Eldridge himself, is Jimmy Simmonds, who does most of the fancy jumps, works in the clown acts, and drives one of the jumping boats.
Water Ski Grandstand Louise Hays Park Kerrville
The old stone grandstand, near the
Sidney Baker Street Bridge
"The show opens with some flashy turns by the tow boats, with Eldridge driving one, and Herman Gadecke driving the other.
"Then come the flag bearers on skis. They are Mrs. Fred Bernhard, April Clover, Mrs. Clifton Mackey, and Mary Dyer. Sue Dale Simmonds and Mrs. Alton Fairchild will take turns with the flag bearers.
"Creed Blevins wowed the first nighters with a high dive off of the bridge. This will be a regular part of the show.
"Freddie Bernhard, who takes part in several acts, did a spectacular demonstration of slalom skiing, shoe skiing, and barefoot skiing. He is considered one of the outstanding slalom skiers (one ski) in the nation.
Ski boat churning the water, Louise Hays Park
Ski boat churning the water,
Louise Hays Park
"Bernhard, Simmonds, Blevins and Clifton Mackey dressed up as farmers for the clown act.
Back Swan by Sarah Johnston
and Jimmy Simmonds
"Bobby Solomon and Johnny Page, elementary school youngsters, put on an slalom skiing demonstration to show that skiing can be done at an early age.
"Taking part in the ballerina number were Irene Fischer, Mrs. Mackey, Mrs. Eldridge, and Mrs. Richard Pachall.
"One of the more daring stunts was a back swan from the shoulders of Simmonds by Sarah Jane Johnston done while he was skiing."
As I swam in the quiet water with my son this past week, I tried to picture boats and skiers and ramps and hoops of fire in that tiny spot. The turn by the dam would be very tight, even for one skier. Some of the photos show four skiers behind one boat.
I tried to imagine the noise of boat motors, the smell of exhaust, the choppy wake of speedboats, the sight of skiers skimming the water.
Kerrville's Louise Hays Park, late 1950s
Louise Hays Park, late 1950s, with Water Ski shack by river,
and the Blue Bonnet Hotel across river.
A poster of this image is available by clicking HERE
I do remember riding in my parent's boat at that same spot; I was very little. My Mom skied slalom as my Dad drove the boat. (They were not part of the Ave-Cot show. They were just a couple of twenty-somethings who liked to ski. The Louise Hays Park was convenient to the print shop.)
I remember the dam getting closer and closer as Dad drove fast toward it. I remember Mom skiing behind the boat. I'm sure I closed my eyes as we made that turn just before the dam.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who last went water skiing with his father and his son, years ago. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 15, 2017.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Downtown Kerrville when I was a boy

700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
A poster of this image is available HERE
Click on any image to enlarge
Because I've spent most of my working hours in the 600 block of Water Street, downtown from my point of view starts at the print shop and faces toward Pampell's and the spot where the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital once stood. That means I stand at the print shop and look southeast and view downtown.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
A poster of this image is available HERE
Others, of course, would view "downtown" from different areas. If you lived on Earl Garrett Street, downtown is facing along that street looking toward the river. For others, Sidney Baker might be the entry to downtown. A friend suggests the print shop is actually on the "Clay Street trailhead," a point of view that begins at the intersection of Water and Clay streets, and looks northeast, completely ignoring the framework of what I consider 'downtown.'
It all depends upon your point of view.
My point of view frames downtown Kerrville in my mind, and it's probably why I prefer images of downtown taken from the 600 block of Water Street, where our shop stands, facing toward the 700 block, where Pampell's and the Schreiner building stand.
Going through some photographs recently given to me, I saw a number of images showing how much the view from my block toward the 700 block has changed, even in my lifetime. (I was born here in 1961.)
The 700 block of Water Street was a busy place when I was a kid.
700 block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
700 block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
A poster of this image is available HERE
On the river side of Water Street, the block started with Pampell's and ended with the Charles Schreiner Bank. I'm old enough to remember the sons who ran each: Milton Pampell, who was the son of J. L. Pampell; and Louis Schreiner, who was the son of Charles Schreiner.
Between those two establishments were around a dozen businesses. Next to Pampell's was Brehmer's Jewelers, owned by our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Brehmer. Two of our family friends from church worked there: Irene Arreola and Doris Chenault.
The Wares had a nice shoe store on that block, with a device which would measure your foot. It was a platform that you stood upon, with a small railing. You'd put your sock-covered foot into a rectangle shaped indention in the floor of the device, and the machine would measure the width and length of your foot, with the result showing up on some type of screen. It was very modern, and I thought it was amazing.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, 1920s
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, 1920s
I have the Victrola sign pictured in the photo.

A poster of this image is available HERE
The Arcadia Theater was in that block, too, and my friends and I spent many a long Saturday there watching matinee screenings of westerns and comedies. The floor was always sticky and made a distinct sound as you shuffled to your seat; the seats had a noteworthy smell, too. I think we have some of those theater seats in one of our warehouses, now. They likely smell the same as they did then.
Along that block you could find the offices of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, with the Salter family hard at work. Mrs. Camilla Salter, the publisher, was so nice. I seldom walked that way without stopping in to say hello. She knew everyone in town and she knew what everyone was talking about, too.
There were a lot of other businesses on that side of the street, too. Dress shops and barber shops and pharmacies.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, circa 1938
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, circa 1938
At the end of the block was the Charles Schreiner Bank, and I have two clear memories of the place. First, the door had a bronze plaque which read "Charles Schreiner Banker, Unincorporated;" and two, the desk of Louis Schreiner, just to the left of the front door. He saw everyone who came in, which is not a bad thing for the owner to do. I don't remember him ever speaking to me, but I do remember him looking up from his work as I opened the door.
Across Water Street was the Schreiner department store, which was huge and quite fancy. As a child, I always felt a bit out of place there. Perhaps it was a little too fancy for me.
Heading back toward Sidney Baker along Water you passed by Winn's (which in an earlier life was Lehmann's). Winn's had many things a youngster would want: comics, slingshots, toys, and candy. You could by an Icee drink at the little cafe at the back, which was a great treat on a hot summer afternoon. It was a good variety store.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, 2017
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, July 2017,
taken by yours truly
Past Winn's was the J. C. Penney store. Many of us remember that crowded store, and the pneumatic tubes that carried change and orders back and forth overhead. Most of my school clothes came from this store.
Then, on the corner, was the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital. It was quite a place and we spent a lot of time exploring its seven stories and basement. Fewer doors were locked then than are today and we downtown kids wandered everywhere, quite often to places we should not have visited.
I hope you enjoy the photographs and I hope these few paragraphs will inspire a memory or two of your own.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has fond memories of downtown Kerrville.

Historic Photos Store Update: A friend pointed out the online store was charging freight for every item ordered, which meant the shipping charges were SUPER EXPENSIVE. This is now fixed, I think. These ship out of California and North Carolina from plants specializing in archival-quality large format printing (they can print BIG posters).   If anyone else has problems with the store, please let me know.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Celebrating July Fourth in Kerr County since 1856

Kerrville: Rodeo Days Parade on July 4th, 1950s.
Kerrville: Rodeo Days Parade on July 4th, 1950s.
Click on any image to enlarge
A poster of this image is available HERE
In 1856, when Kerr County was formed, the United States celebrated its 80th Independence Day. The country was still new when our county was formed.
There is no record of how our community celebrated its first July 4th, but one should remember there were very few people in the county at the time. The largest town in the county was Comfort (which was in the county at the time, before Kendall County was created). Center Point had more folks than Kerrville, too.
Kerrville only had four or five houses in 1856, and was at the edge of the Texas frontier. Center Point and Comfort were more established, but had small populations. If the communities in the county celebrated that first year, the details have been lost to time.
The earliest record I found of Independence Day celebrations came from a 1902 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun.
“Good time had at Ingram,” the headline read. “The picnic and barbecue at this place yesterday was a pronounced success. Plenty of everything to eat was in evidence. Candidates were on the grounds in greatest profusion, bragging on pretty babies, predicting abundant rains, and otherwise acting pleasant. The people were all happy, handshaking and good cheer was the order of the day, and all considered it one well spent.”
In the same issue, events marking the Fourth of July in Kerrville were reported.
“Great Success. The Fire Boys done Themselves Proud Yesterday,” the headline reads.
A Kerr County July Fourth picnic, around 1900
A Kerr County July Fourth picnic, around 1900
“Kerrville’s big barbecue goes into history as one of the most successful entertainments the town has ever given — 2,500 people stood at the big tables — Prince and Nabob, Peasant and Plebeian elbow to elbow eating barbecue and drinking black coffee, joking and laughing and enjoying the dinner in the fullest sense.”
The event was a fundraiser for “Kerrville Hose Company No. 1.” The firemen were described as “Brau and Bonnie laddies as ever reared a ladder, or held a nozzle.”
2,500 is a large number of people to feed, and if accurate, would have been greater than the population of Kerrville in 1900, which was around 1,400.
“All had an abundance of barbecued meats, bread, pickles and black coffee, and half as many more could have been fed on what was left from the feast. The entertainment was good, in every way, and all passed off without fiction. Hon. Jno. Coleman of Houston delivered an address at 2 p.m. That was short, timely, and befitting the occasion.”
That evening the ‘Kerrville Dramatic Company’ presented ‘Rip Van Winkle’ as a benefit for the Kerrville Hose Company at Pampell’s Opera House. “Mr. Morrison, as ‘Rip’ was a pronounced success. The other members of the company were supposed by show goers…to be professionals rather than amateurs.”
Community barbecues continued for decades. In 1905, the Sun reported a Fourth of July picnic “near Frank Moore’s crossing of the Guadalupe, 3 1/2 miles above Kerrville. The picnic will be under the auspices of the Farmer’s Union…Let everybody turn out and make this entertainment break the picnic record of Texas.”
In 1925, under the leadership of the Kerrville chamber of commerce, a picnic was organized to celebrate Independence Day at the ‘U. S. Veterans Hospital at Legion.’ That celebration was only 6 1/2 years after the end of World War I.
A rodeo in Ingram, Texas 1930s
A rodeo in Ingram, 1930s
“There will be no dull moments during the afternoon and evening and every citizen of Kerrville to come out and mingle with the former service men at Legion, participate with them in the games, mingle with them, show them that we are interested in their welfare and are proud of them for the sacrifices they have made for their country’s sake.”
Music for the occasion was provided by the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce band. There was a baseball game during the event, between the ladies and the men attending. The ladies won.
In 1930, there were no festivities planned, other than a baseball game between Kerrville and Boerne. The “Modern Air Travel Corporation of San Antonio” sent an airplane to Kerrville and took paying guests on a quick trip over the city. Several of the summer camps put on special July 4th programs, including a water carnival and puppet show at Camp Mystic, a Texas history pageant at Camp Rio Vista, and athletics exhibitions at Camp Stewart.
In 1935, a new July 4th tradition began in the county: a big rodeo, produced the Kerrville Jaycees. These rodeos included parades, beauty contests, dances, and a big rodeo, which was held at “Antler Field.”
That meant the rodeo was held on the football field.
In 1936, the holiday was celebrated in Kerrville with speeches by politicians, the dedication of the new post office at the corner of Earl Garrett and Main streets, and the dedication of the recently completed ‘Charles Schreiner Bridge,’ which extended Sidney Baker Street across the Guadalupe River as part of what is now Highway 16. The community ended the day with a big barbecue at the state park, “opposite the Legion hospital.” Today we know the park as the Kerrville-Schreiner municipal park.
The 1940 rodeo was held after a series of rainstorms and there was some concern whether the show would go on. “Pierce Hoggett, rodeo director, stated Tuesday night after making an inspection of the Tivy Field. The thick turf covering the gridiron will give the animals ample footing, it was explained.”
For many its first seven years, the rodeo was held on the football field at the intersection of Tivy and Third streets. When present-day Antler Stadium was completed in 1941, the rodeo moved to the new location.
I wondered if the rodeo would continue during World War II, so I checked the 1943 newspapers reporting the event. The event was as large, if not larger, than the years previous, and included a horse show, trick riding, and a parade. Governor Coke Stevenson attended one of the rodeo performances.
In tandem with the 1943 event, money was raised for building an aircraft carrier “which will be used in the bombing of Tokyo. Overall the nationwide effort hoped to raise about $132 million; Kerr County’s share was about $12 thousand. The mystery ship had a name in the campaign: the Shangri-La. The ship was built, commissioned in 1944, and saw action in the Pacific, including sending planes to attack Tokyo.
Kerrville: Pampell's, July 4, 1952
Pampell's, July 4, 1952
A poster of this image is available HERE
The rodeo continued. In 1950 an airshow was added, sponsored by the Kerrville Aeronautics Association, and included 100 visiting planes. The airshow included an air race, and the crowds enjoyed a holiday barbecue. There was also a race between a Piper Cub and a ‘hot-rod automobile;’ the plane won.
In 1955, a square dance jamboree was added to the annual rodeo, which included a performance by ‘the nationally famous Texas Starlets of San Antonio.’
By 1961 it appears the Jaycees dropped the rodeo in favor of a bigger air show. To entice Kerr county residents to attend, it was reported “a quarter of a million S&H Green Stamps will be given away as door prizes.” The square dance festival also was presented that year, in the Kerrville Municipal Auditorium.
The Jaycees offered the following festivities in 1970: a parade, a decorated bike contest, a barbecue to be held in Louise Hays Park, a dunking booth, and, for the first time reported, a big fireworks display.
“Richard Ferris is in charge [of the fireworks]. The Jaycees said they ‘blew their budget’ on fireworks this year, with more than an half-hour of entertainment planned.”
July 4th, 1980 had canoe races sponsored by the V.F.W.; a barbecue held by the Jaycees; and political stumping by candidates.
I liked this item reported in 1990: “anyone attends can help the parade by bringing a boom box or radio, because KERV/KRVL will be broadcasting marching music for the parade.” I’m guessing they couldn’t get a marching band to perform in the summer, when school was not in session.
Also in 1990: “from 7:30 to ‘dark thirty’ the Kerr Pops will hold a concert which will be the last scheduled event before the fireworks display, which is set to begin at exactly 9:37 pm.” Fireworks that year were sponsored by the Tipton-Carson Distributing Company and the Women’s Division of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce.
This format continued for many years, with a pops concert followed by a fireworks display at dark thirty. Parades were rare.
In 2012 a new format was introduced for the community celebrations: "Kerrville's 4th on the River." This new idea has taken several forms, including making the event one where admission was charged. One year the celebration was not actually on July 4. Another year faced the obstacle of having Louis Hays Park closed for renovations.
In 2012 the performers were John Wolfe, Monte Montgomery, JB & the Moonshine Band, Stoney LaRue, and the New Buddy Holly Band.
In 2013, Robert Earl Keen joined the line up, and for several years has been the headline act for the celebration.
This year's celebration will be held at Louise Hays Park, and will feature performances by Brent Ryan, Fred Eaglesmith, Bruce Robison, and Robert Earl Keen. The event is free and open to the public, and performances start at 4 pm. There will also be a fireworks display at 9:30 pm, sponsored again by Mamacita's Restaurant.
Kerr County has celebrated the Fourth of July in many different ways, during times of economic hardship, war, and political division. Coming together as a community has been a line one can trace all of the way back to the very first days of Kerr County.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys community celebrations. This story originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Hill Country Culture magazine.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Grand Hotel in the Heart of Kerrville

Courtyard St Charles Hotel Kerrville
Courtyard of the St. Charles Hotel, Kerrville, around 1917
Click any image to enlarge
A poster of this image is available HERE
Recently a kind couple gave me an album of historic photographs and I've enjoyed sharing a few of the images with you here each week.
Among the photos are a cache of photographs of the St Charles hotel, many of them images I've never seen before. While many photos of the exterior of the hotel are in circulation, there are very few I can absolutely confirm were taken of the interior of the hotel. This album has several interior photos.
Kerrville's St Charles Hotel, around 1923
Kerrville's St Charles Hotel, around 1923
A poster of this image is available HERE
The St. Charles Hotel stood on the eastern corner of the intersection of Water and Sidney Baker streets. It was across Water Street from Pampell's, and across Sidney Baker Street from the city's parking building. Today the site is called Peterson Plaza; in recent memory it was the site of the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital.
Why are photos of this long-ago hotel so important?
The St. Charles Hotel figures in our community’s history as the most elegant hotel of her era; many of the other local ‘hotels’ were actually places for boarding people suffering from tuberculosis. The St. Charles, as far as my research can tell, was always strictly for travelers, although a few rooms were rented to ‘bachelors’ for extended periods.
Kerrville's St Charles hotel, around 1907
Kerrville's St Charles hotel, around 1907
A poster of this image is available HERE
In Kerrville, it was the place where the prominent visitors stayed, including William Jennings Bryan, United States senators Joseph Weldon Bailey and Charles Culbertson, and numerous Texas governors. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who gained fame during the Second World War, lived at the hotel as a youngster through his teen years when his stepfather and mother managed the facility.
In short, for several generations the St. Charles was a center of social life here.
The hotel was constructed in 1883, reportedly by Charles Schreiner. I have not discovered the reason for its interesting name, though I've tried. The hotel was razed in the summer of 1936, so it stood for around 53 years.
During its height it had 63 guestrooms, a large lobby, and a dining room that could accommodate 125 people. Because of the size of its banquet facilities, many of the community social events were held there, including the Tivy High School junior-senior banquet. It was also the original home of the Business Men’s club, an organization that later became the Kerrville Rotary Club, and both organizations had their first meetings in the elegant St. Charles.
Kerrville's St. Charles Hotel veranda, around 1920.
Kerrville's St. Charles Hotel veranda, around 1920.
A poster of this image is available HERE
The building went through a series of owners and managers. Starting with Captain Schreiner, the next owners were Mr. & Mrs. Lee Mason. George Morris purchased the hotel from the Masons in 1907, and it was sold by his widow to Mr. J. V. Davis in 1930. Mr. Davis was then the operator of the new (and comparatively huge) Blue Bonnet Hotel, at the corner of Water and Earl Garrett streets. Mr. Davis then disposed of the property to Schreiner Institute, and the St. Charles was no longer in operation. In fact, the board of the Institute ordered the hotel torn down for materials to be used in the construction of a ‘two story barracks’ on the campus, to be added to the south end of the barracks known as the ‘Show Boat.’
Materials from the old structure found their way into other buildings, as well. Until our print shop’s fire in 1995, several of the interior doors were most likely ‘recycled’ from the St. Charles Hotel.
Mrs. Mattie Morris at the front desk of the St. Charles Hotel, Kerrville, 1909
Mrs. Mattie Morris at the front desk of the
St. Charles Hotel, Kerrville, 1909

A poster of this image is available HERE
Growth in the popularity of Kerr County as a tourist destination allowed for numerous expansions to the original hotel, the last addition built in 1918, where a three-story annex was added to the building. Its stucco exterior is shown in many photographs of the era. Prior to the addition, the St. Charles was a two story frame building, with scrollwork on the eaves and balconies. There was a courtyard that held a badminton court and a bench glider, in the space between the main hotel building at the corner of the present Sidney Baker and Water Streets, and the old wool warehouse of the Charles Schreiner Company. Color postcards suggest that the original frame building was white with green trim. The addition in 1918 transformed the look of the building into a more modern looking structure that still retained its porches and balconies.
I'm truly thankful for these historic photographs because they offer a glimpse of the grand hotel that once graced Kerrville's downtown area.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historic Kerrville and Kerr County items. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 1, 2017.



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