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Monday, January 6, 2014

Kerrville grew in cycles

The "Old Town" section of downtown Kerrville is the site of many of my happiest memories growing up years here, from about the time my folks started our printing company in 1964, through my graduation from high school in 1979. In those fifteen years, I spent a lot of time in the downtown area.
As I was studying the ages of the oldest buildings in the downtown area, it seemed like a pattern was emerging: the development of the area occurred in waves. I was paying close attention to the arrival of the railroad here in 1887, which caused a building boom, but other, smaller "booms" came before, and after, the railroad's arrival.
In the "before" column would be the Favorite Saloon building, built in 1874, which now houses Hill Country Living in the 700 block of Water.
Another building built around the same time was the second Kerr County Courthouse, which was torn down in the late 1920s: that courthouse was built in 1876. It was a two-story stone courthouse.
Next, and still before the arrival of the trains to Kerrville, came the first part of the Charles Schreiner home, on Earl Garrett. That house began in 1879; the porches were added later.
In 1880 the first part of what we now know as the Pampell's building was constructed, at the corner of today's Water and Sidney Baker's street. Portions of the building might be older; current research suggests a second story was added in 1880 to an existing building.
The oldest part of the stone building which housed Charles Schreiner Company dates from 1882, and can be seen on Earl Garrett.
Finally, in the "before the railroad" era, came the Guthrie Building, at the corner of Main and Earl Garrett Streets. The Guthrie Building was built the same year as the arrival of the railroad, 1887.
So, before the railroad: the Favorite Saloon, a stone courthouse (now gone), the first part of the Charles Schreiner home, the Pampell's building, a portion of the Charles Schreiner Company building, and the Guthrie Building.
Then, after the railroad, another spurt of buildings arose in the downtown area.
The Weston Building, now home of Francisco's Restaurant, and the Masonic Building, now home of Sheftall's Jewelers, both on Earl Garrett Street, were built in 1890, as well as the Wolfmueller Bakery building, which now houses Briscoe-Hall, in the 800 block of Water Street.
The next "spurt" of construction happened around 1907, when the Noll Building, at the corner of Water and Washington was constructed. It is now the home of River's Edge Gallery.
Then another "boom:" In 1907 the Fawcett Building was built; it now houses Sunrise Antique Mall. The Davis Building, which is the current home of Crickets, came along as the Rawson Building in 1909, as did the former Kerrville Main Street offices in the 700 block of Water Street.
The late 1920s saw the construction of the Arcadia Theater (1926); the current Kerr County Courthouse (1926); and Lee Mason's car dealership (which I incorrectly called the Cone Building), home today of Voelkel Engineering. The Baehre building, which houses Rita's Famous Tacos and Creative Cakes by Sharon, came along two years later, in 1928.
Another wave hit in the 1930s, with the construction of the former post office, home today of the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, at the corner of Main and Earl Garrett; and the former city hall, home today of the Union State Bank.
I know I've skipped some buildings, but these landmarks are easily visible. If I've forgotten something important, please forgive me.
Cycles of construction continue, of course, today. I thought grouping the buildings by era might be helpful as you stroll the old downtown area.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has tread the downtown sidewalks for a half-century. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 4, 2014.
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