Last week I offered a little puzzle to my readers, asking them to name the five oldest commercial buildings in Kerrville's historic downtown. I provided a list of many of the older buildings in the downtown area, and asked readers to list, from one to five, the five oldest buildings in order of age.
I put a form on my website, joeherringjr.com, for people to use, and received a lot of responses. Here are the ages of each of the buildings listed in last week's column:
• The Arcadia Theater: built in 1926, and remodeled extensively in 1948.
• The Weston Building (the current home of Francisco's Restuarant): built in 1890, as a saloon, by the son-in-law and daughter of our community's founder.
• The Guthrie Building (the current home of Clack's law office): built in 1887.
• The Masonic Building (the current home of Sheftall's Jewelers): built in 1890. The date is displayed at the top of the facade.
• The Favorite Saloon (the current home of Hill Country Living): built in 1874, by F. J. Hamer, who had a saloon there. I believe he was also Kerr County sheriff.
• The Charles Schreiner Mansion: 1879, with the porch added in 1895.
• The Pampell's Building: this is the tricky one. Though the historic marker says differently, recent research suggests parts of the building date back to 1880, when it was known as the Gregory Hotel. There's a chance it's even older than 1880, however, since a one-story building was on the site, which was remodeled into a two-story hotel.
• The Davis Building (the current home of Cricket's): built in 1909, and once known as the Rawson Building.
• The Cone Building (the current home of Voelkel Engineering): 1926, same as the Arcadia.
• The old Post Office (the current home of the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center): 1936. Plaque out front, on right side of the building, has the date inscribed on it.
• The Kerr County Courthouse: the current courthouse was built in 1926, same as the Arcadia Theater and the Cone Building. The current courthouse is Kerr County's fourth courthouse. The first was a log structure, built in 1856, but none of this original courthouse remains. The second was a two-story building, which stood about where this year's tall Christmas Tree stands today. This second courthouse was recycled into the county jail when the third Kerr County courthouse was built. The stones from the second and third Kerr County courthouses were recycled all over town, but can be seen in the rock fence in front of Schreiner University, along Highway 27.
• The Baehre Building (the current home of Rita's Famous Tacos and Creative Cakes by Sharon): built in 1928. There were several small frame shops on the site, including Self's Jewelry for many years. Originally the site of the biergarten for what we know as the Weston Building, which started out as a saloon.
• The Wolfmueller Bakery (the current home of Briscoe-Hall advertising agency): older than you'd think, 1890. The same age as the Masonic Building and the Weston Building.
• the former Kerrville Main Street offices (at 715 Water Street): built in 1909. Older than expected.
• The Fawcett Furniture building (the current home of Sunrise Antique Mall): built in 1907, though parts might be older.
• The Noll building (the current home of River's Edge Gallery -- their new expansion; formerly the Home Center): built in 1906.
• The Schreiner Store: built in stages, of course, over many years. However, I think the oldest part still standing dates from 1882. It's been engulfed by the rest of the building, but its outline can still be seen from Earl Garrett Street, above the branch office of the Bank of the Hills.
Down on the print shop part of Water Street, many of the buildings were built by the Parsons family. Our offices were built in 1937; our pressroom building in 1948. In our parking lot the Rialto Theater once stood, dating from 1938. A portion of the old Rialto Theater building still exists as the northwest wall of Grape Juice.
Therefore, the five oldest buildings in the downtown area, in order, are: 1) The Favorite Saloon; 2) the Schreiner Mansion; 3) the Gregory Hotel (Pampell's), though further research might yield an earlier date for portions of the building; 4) a portion of Schreiner's store; and 5) the Guthrie Building. It's interesting to note all five of these buildings predate the arrival of the railroad here, meaning all materials had to be hauled here by oxcart.
According to the responses I've received, the first person to provide the correct answer to the challenge was Dr. Bill Rector, who, with his wife, happens to own the Favorite Saloon building, and has a long-time interest in Kerrville history.
I'd like to thank those whose research helped with this column: I relied on the work of both Deborah Gaudier and Lanza Teague. Ms. Gaudier's blog, kerrhistory.blogspot.com, provides a lot of useful information, as does Ms. Teague's blog, sylvanlampworks.blogspot.com
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes you a very Merry Christmas. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times on December 21, 2013.