Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Watching the Old Girl Go.

The demolition of Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital.
Taken this morning, July 28, 2010
A lot of our community's history has taken place at the eastern corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets, according to Bob Bennett, writing in his 1956 book “Kerr County Texas: 1856 – 1956.”
Early in the history of our community, during the Civil War, there was a school on the site, housed in a frame building, location of some of the first classes held in the county. He also writes that some of the first county court sessions were held there.
Later, hotels were on the site. Dr. G. R. Parsons opened a hotel there in the late 1870s; after Dr. Parsons the hotel was operated W. Scott and J. H. Back. J. H. Back became our postmaster in 1888, and the post office was then located in a part of the hotel building.
In 1884, the site saw the construction of the St. Charles Hotel. It was originally a frame building, but later, from photos I’ve seen, it was remodeled in it looks to be a stucco building. The St. Charles was operated by several families, including the families of Lee Mason, Mr. & Mrs. George Morris, and William Nimitz. Nimitz had a stepson who lived with him and attended Tivy High School, a sailor named Chester Nimitz who rose to some prominence in the U. S. Navy.
But the old St. Charles Hotel, as grand as it was, faded.
Joe Baulch, in his history of Schreiner University writes: "Part of the school's endowment was a note secured by Kerrville's aging St. Charles Hotel, whose owners defaulted, ownership passing to the school. Operating the old hotel was deemed improbable, and the property taxes were burdensome. After a fire burned a portion of the old building, most of the remainder was razed and the lumber was used throughout the depression decade to build partially the shops, faculty housing, two new barracks buildings, garages, an infirmary, a chemistry laboratory, and additions to the gymnasium [at Schreiner]."A couple of sentences later Baulch says that through the sale of the St. Charles and some other properties, ‘the school was able to balance its books throughout the Depression years....’”
After the St. Charles Hotel was removed, "The Nook," a restaurant was on the site. William Howard and Tommie Blackburn owned and ran the restaurant. They also ran “The Cozy Grill,” which was housed at at least two locations on Water Street.
Then in 1949 the restaurant building was dismantled (and stored on the Blackburn's ranch) to make way for a project of Hal and Charlie Peterson, a hospital they built as a memorial to their father, Sid Peterson.
Bennett writes: “Sid Peterson, affectionately and respectfully known as “Cap,” was born in Lavaca County on January 15, 1868. He moved with his parents to Gonzales County when he was an infant. The family came to Kerr County in 1880. As a youth, Sid C. Peterson went up the trail to Kansas with cattle herds; in his later years he became one of the most substantial ranchmen and landholders in the Hill Country. In 1898 he married Myrta Goss, daughter of Spence Goss, who was wounded in a fight with Indians in western Kerr County in 1857.
“Sid C. Peterson died in 1939, and Mrs. Myrta Peterson died in 1951.
“Kerrville took another stride forward as a leading Southwest Texas medical center when the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital was formally opened on July 3, 1949. This million-dollar hospital, modern to the last detail, was built by the Sid Peterson Foundation.”
What is next for the corner? Only time will tell.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who was born one block from his workplace. You can connect with Joe on Facebook at or on Twitter at  You can also get email updates when new articles are posted by clicking here.

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