Monday, January 24, 2011

The Mystery of the Curving Wall

Perhaps it's because I sit by a window at the print shop which faces the construction project at the old Schreiner store building, but I've been very interested in the project's progress, and especially the long wall visible (and parallel to) Sidney Baker Street.
The Curving Wall

That cut limestone wall is intriguing to me for several reasons, but this week I discovered another part of the wall's story: if you face the wall, standing on Water Street, and looking down its edge toward the Kerr County Courthouse, you'll notice the wall is curved. It starts off nice and straight, running perpendicular to Water Street, but then it tucks toward Sidney Baker Street toward the back of the building.
Look for yourself: that wall curves a lot.
There's a reason for this curve, but first, more on that wall.

As seen from Sidney Baker St.
What we're seeing, as we look at the wall, is the interior wall of an old building. The large limestone blocks we see were once on the inside of the building; the outside of the building is on the other side, used as part of the wall in what was once the Ladies Department at Schreiner's when I was a boy.
Also, we're only seeing the first story of the old wall; it was originally a two story building.
And so that wall is the only remaining part of a building that is now gone; the other three exterior walls are all gone now.
That building was once the Schreiner Wool Warehouse; when I was a boy it was the Winn's variety store building. Before it was Winn's, it was Lehmann's. Winn's was a wonderful place when I was a child. All sorts of inexpensive merchandise, from comics and paperbacks toward the front of the building to a lunch counter in the back. In fact, several photos of the old luncheonette found their way into my recent book of Kerrville photographs.
I have several photographs of the old building in each of its incarnations, but one in particular is of special interest.
Boxcars at Water Street, Kerrville
In it you'll see railroad boxcars next to a two-story limestone building. Without some clues from an old map of Kerrville, it would be hard to figure out the location of the building and the railway boxcars. But an old Sanborn-Perris map of Kerrville from August 1898 gives the clue: there was once a railway spur in Kerrville that came from the old tracks along North and Schreiner Streets right down the middle of Sidney Baker Street. At the intersection of Sidney Baker and Main Streets, the spur cut into the 700 block of Water Street, entering about where the "Welcome to Kerrville" fountain is today and curving its way to a stop about where the sidewalk in front of the Schreiner Department Store is today.
The blue building, bottom
center, has a curved wall.
The old map shows the tracks curving toward the center of that block, then curving back to end up parallel to the opposite side of the wall we can now see as we drive along Sidney Baker Street.
When wool was brought to town, first by wagons, and later by trucks, it was taken to Schreiner's Wool Warehouse on Water Street. I have several photos of these wagons and trucks unloading there. The boxcars were there to pick up the wool and carry it to market.
It was to accommodate that railroad track that the wall curves, not the carelessness of the 19th century stonemasons.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who couldn't build a straight wall if he wanted to.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times on January 22, 2011


  1. So, the railway ran right through where the west end of schreiners dept. store is today? And evidently that end of schreiners store was added on to the original store sometime after the railway was retired. when was that?

  2. Joe,

    You could have been a detective. You have an uncanny ability to ferret out the smallest of details. Great Work!

  3. This is so interesting!

    I've been inside Lehmann's store and the general warehouse that is shown on the Sanborn-Perris map (pink colored building).

    However, I never noticed the curvature of the two buildings.

    I need to pay more attention to my surroundings.

  4. This article mentions a "Welcome to Kerrville fountain."
    Not living in Kerrville, I'm not familiar with this fountain. Does anyone have a photo of it, or is there a website that shows a photo of it?


  5. The fountain is on the southmost corner of Sidney Baker and Main Street. An image can be found at

  6. Those Sanborn-Perris maps intrigue me.
    Can they be purchased?
    Are they available on the internet?

  7. I purchased copies from the Library of Congress, though they were pretty darned expensive. There's a page in this blog about the maps:

  8. The photo, shown above, that is labeled, "As seen from Sidney Baker St." is very interesting.

    All the window openings on the wall appear to be original. How great it is to once again see those old windows.

    I'm so glad that the present owners are restoring the building rather than tearing it down.

    I've never understood why people want to destroy historic buildings.

  9. I can remember seeing the rails in the parking lot of the Schreiner Feed Store in the 60s. They were not in use, but they were still there.

  10. There are two questions that I have about the old Schreiner Wool Warehouse (later, Lehmann's Store).

    First, when I look at a 1904 Sanborn Map, I see that the warehouse building was just a little longer (depth) than the Schreiner building that was on the corner of Water and Mountain Streets. Plus, the warehouse walls were straight, not curved.

    However, if I look at a 1916 Sanborn Map, (page 2), I see that the warehouse building has been extended (again, the depth) and is then much longer than the other Schreiner Building that was on the corner of Water and Mountain Streets. Plus, in the 1916 Map, the wall of the warehouse is most definitely curved.

    Here is my first question; when was the building extended? Obviously, the added length of the building was constructed sometime between 1904 and 1916, but when?

    Now for my second question, and it is the one that confuses me the most.

    When Lehmann's store existed, there was a door on the right side of the building (the right side as you stand on the front sidewalk and looked at the store). It led outside to the parking lot.

    If you walked through the front door of the store, and then while staying on the right side of the building, you walked about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the store, you would see the door. It was a single French door. It was in the toy section.

    At Christmas, Santa used to sit directly in front of the glass door. Each year I would ask Santa where his sleigh and reindeer were located, and he would always say they were, "out back of the store."

    I would then go to the French door and stare outside, looking for Santa' sleigh.

    Here's my second question. When looking at the 1916 Sanborn Map, I see the curved wall of the wool warehouse/Lehmann's Store Building, but I do not see the 10 foot, or so, outcrop from the building where the toy department was located, which means that I do not see where the door could have been constructed. The door must have been built at the point where the straight wall began to curve, but I'm not certain.

    \ <------ Curved Wall
    \ <------ My guess is that the door was constructed
    || <------ here, but it's just a guess.
    || <------ Straight Wall
    Front of Store

    < --- Water Street --- >

    When considering how much time I have devoted to these two questions, one thing very quickly comes to mind; obviously, I have too much time on my hands. :)

  11. In my "where's the door" dissertation/lunacy above, I failed to mention that the door faced the back of the store. When looking through the glass door, you could see behind the store, or at least behind part of it. It did not face the store next to it.

    Back of Store

    \ <---- Curved Wall
    .....\----| Door |----|
    ..........................|<---Straight Wall

    Front of Store

    Note 1: I'm sorry for placing so many periods in the diagram. For some reason, when drawing diagrams, the editor won't allow the space bar to be used as a spacer between the left margin and the first character that is typed on the line.

    Note 2: In my first post, I left the letter "s" off the end of the word, "Santa's."

    Instead of, "I would then go to the French door and stare outside, looking for Santa' sleigh.

    It should have read, "I would then go to the French door and stare outside, looking for SANTA'S sleigh."

    *** Way too much time on my hands ***


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