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Monday, September 27, 2010

A tour of downtown Kerrville as it was before 1920.

As I reported last week, I've been looking for something in my files, which means I've been finding all sorts of other interesting things other than the thing that started the whole search. This seems to be the story of my life right now.
Last week I shared a letter postmarked November 1995 which included a map and a description of Kerrville before 1920. Unfortunately there was no signature -- so I was not sure who sent it. But one of my history friends, Lanza Teague, knew exactly who the author was: Anna Belle Council Roland.
That's what happens when you have smart friends. Thanks, Lanza.
Let's continue our tour with Ms. Roland of downtown Kerrville, as it appeared before 1920:
Weston Saloon, Kerrville
"Close to [Weston's] Saloon was a barber shop with the usual bathtub. It wasn't until bobbed hair became acceptable after World War I that women went into barber shops. It was an invasion into a 'man's world.'" 
The Weston Saloon was in the building at the corner of Earl Garrett and Water now housing Francisco's Restaurant. The barber shop she describes was on Water Street, next door.
Next, "in a small building was the First State Bank, organized in 1907.
"Fawcett's Furniture store was about in the middle of the block.
"The Dixie Theater was located between Fawcett's and Noll's (the present day Home Center). It was a barnlike structure. The movie screen was at the fron, the seats were crude wooden benches, and the floor was dirt. This was the only movie we had from about 1920 to 1927.
Trade coin from H. Noll Stock Company
"On the corner was the H. Noll Stock Company. It was a general merchandise store. It was run by Mr. Noll, his two sons, and his son-in-law. I don't remember when it closed. Later there was a Goodyear store there, and now the Home Center."
At this point the tour doubles back to Earl Garrett Street, starting at the tall stone building now housing Sheftall's Jewelers.
The building, before 1920, was "the Masonic Hall. Until about 1919 the post office was downstairs, and the Masons and Eastern Star met upstairs. This building still stands.
"There were several small occupancies along the street in frame buildings. About three-fourths of the way down the block was a large store built of concrete blocks that housed a saddle and harness shop. They also sold buggies.
"The corner building, a masonry structure, still stands. It was at first a store and later Wheeless [sic] Studio."   When I was a boy (in the 1960s), Fuzzy Swayze had a studio in the corner building; today it is a law office. I think the Kerrville Mountain Sun was also in the building for a while, early at the turn of the last century.
On the corner across the street from the Guthrie building, going north on Earl Garrett, was the Mercantile. "On one side they carried piece goods, men's clothing, and shoes. The other side was more of a hardware store with pots and pans, dishes, etc. Also, this was where you bought school supplies and textbooks before the state began to furnish them in 1918. They also carried toys -- here you contacted Santa Claus. They had a good candy case.
"In about the middle of the block was Mrs. Florence Butt's first grocery store. She, too, had a case full of good penny candy."
Mrs. Roland also described the Kerr County Courthouse in her letter:
Third Kerr County Courthouse, Kerrville
"A two-story limestone structure very similar to the present Bandera County courthouse. There was also a square building with the jail upstairs and the jailer's family housed downstairs. The present courthouse was built in 1926."
I hope you've enjoyed this pre-1920 tour of old Kerrville. Our little town was very different not too many years ago.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is still looking for something in his files.

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