Monday, May 21, 2012

The Journey of the Tivy Hotel

Almost daily I am surprised at the new tools available -- for free -- for historical research. These tools have allowed me to answer some questions I'd pondered for a long time and they've revealed information I researched on a whim.
Tivy Hotel, facing Main Street, Kerrville, 1899
That "Internet thing" might just catch on.
Take, for example, a long-running question about the old Tivy Hotel. The building, which faces Tivy Street between Main and Jefferson streets, once faced Main Street, or so I'd been told.
Looking at the structure I wondered if this tale was true. It looks like it would be difficult to move. Why would someone go to such effort and expense?
The Tivy Hotel was built by Kerrville's first mayor, Capt. Joseph Tivy. Tivy was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1818. He grew up in Niagara County in New York, and at the age of 19 headed to Texas. In 1842 he acquired a Texas land grant from the heirs of Thomas Hand, a tract that would prove important in the formation of Kerrville. He served in the Texas Rangers under Jack Hays. In 1849 he went to California in search of gold, where he made his money operating a hotel. He served in the California legislature, and later the Texas legislature. He came to Kerrville as a bachelor in 1872 with his two spinster sisters; the three had made a pact never to marry.
Capt. Tivy broke that promise and married a Kerrville widow, Ella Losee. One of the sisters must have been very upset by this; she moved away from Kerrville. One sister stayed, Suson Tivy. (Her name is spelled Susan in most books, but Suson at her grave.)
Captain Tivy died in 1892, and his buried beside his wife Ella, his sister Suson, and one of Ella's cats at the top of "Tivy Mountain," a rocky hill east of downtown.
Back to my question: was the Tivy Hotel really moved from facing Main Street to its present location, facing Tivy Street?
Using the website, I found a front page story in the December 24, 1931 issue of the "Kerrville Times."
"A deal was closed Friday by which Richard Holdsworth became owner of the Tivy House property."  He bought the property from Mrs. Dora Peak, who lived in Greenville, Texas.
"A frontage of 100 feet on Main Street and 75 feet on Tivy Street has been sold to the Magnolia Petroleum Co. for a filling station site, corner of Main and Tivy. The hotel building will be turned to face Tivy Street and moved back to the northeast of the filling station plot.
"W. B. Speagle of San Antonio has the contract for moving the building, the work having already been started. Mrs. Irene Davis, who has operated the Tivy House for several months, will continue it as a rooming apartment."
The corner is no longer a gas station, though a gas station building was probably the basis of the pharmacy building presently on the site.
I have a personal memory of the Tivy Hotel: my earliest memory of going to work with my father. Before he bought the J. Marvin Hunter Printing Company on Water Street (the site of our present shop), he operated a printing company for a short time in rooms at the Tivy Hotel. If I remember correctly, his first print shop was in the first room to the left of the front door on the ground floor.
I'm thankful Richard Holdsworth, who would later serve as mayor of Kerrville, chose to move the building instead of tearing it down. (I wish others would follow his example.)
Incidentally, the building has been a part of the life of three Kerrville mayors: the first, Tivy; the 17th, Holdsworth; and the 50th, a "columnist."
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County photographs. If you have an old photo of Kerrville you'd let him scan, he would be very thankful. This column originally appeared May 19, 2012 in the Kerrville Daily Times.


  1. That article was wonderful.

    Thank you for settling an issue that has bothered me for decades, whether the Tivy Hotel was really turned and relocated.

    I, too, am thankful that the building was not torn down. Old buildings often have historical value and yet are lost to "progress."

  2. Tivy hotel is Haunted... Very often. You should write a new article on this.


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