Sunday, June 25, 2017

A snowfall in Kerrville in 1923

Kerrville Texas 1923 after a snowfall
Kerrville, after a snowfall, February 5, 1923
Click on any image to enlarge

A copy of this image is available HERE
Recently a kind reader shared some historic photographs of Kerrville with me, and I've been tickled to share them here with you.
Years ago photography was not as easy as it is today, and it was expensive. People didn't take as many pictures as they do now. Even selfies were rare.
Thankfully, though, there were three things which would tempt people to take a photograph in Kerrville: a parade, a flood, or a snowfall.
Two of the photographs recently shared with me were taken on February 5, 1923, after a snowfall. They were both taken from the rooftop of the St. Charles Hotel, a grand hotel which once stood at the corner of Water Street and what is now called Sidney Baker Street; it stood on the eastern corner of that intersection. The archway for Peterson Plaza opposite Pampell's stands on that corner today.
At the time the roof of the St Charles was likely the highest point in downtown, at four stories tall, although the photographs were likely taken from the roof of section of the building which was only three stories. The Blue Bonnet Hotel, which would eventually rise to eight stories, was originally built with five stories in 1927. The Kerr County courthouse might have offered a slight advantage in altitude if the pinnacle was accessible.
The two 1923 photographs show a sleepy town covered in a light blanket of snow. In one, the photographer points his camera almost due east toward Tivy Mountain; in the other to the northeast, almost directly up what is now called Sidney Baker Street.
The photograph taken toward Tivy Mountain shows a lot of interesting things.
The large three story stone building in that photograph is the Kerr County courthouse, which was built in 1886. It would soon be replaced by the current courthouse, which was built in 1926.
The roofs in the immediate foreground are of two Schreiner buildings: a wool warehouse, and a windmill shop. I'm old enough to remember those buildings. The wool warehouse had a very distinct smell, though it was not unpleasant.
Along what is now Earl Garrett Street I notice there are a lot of residences, though near Main there are a few commercial buildings.
Where the post office will be built in the 1930s, at the corner of Earl Garrett and Main Streets, I see something I've never seen before: what appears to be a long arbor, which points toward the courthouse. It appears to turn at 90° angle toward Sidney Baker Street, parallel to Main. It almost looks like a cattle shoot, but checking the 1924 Sanborn map of the block, I can't image livestock being unloaded there. Perhaps it was just a pleasant walkway near Captain Schreiner's home. Where the Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center stands today, in the old post office, was once Schreiner's garden, complete with a greenhouse. When these photographs were taken, in 1923, Capt. Schreiner was still living.
In the distance you can see Tivy High School, the steeples of several churches, and a snow-covered Tivy Mountain.
Kerrville Texas 1923 after a snowfall looking north
Kerrville, after a snowfall, February 5, 1923
The road stretching away from the photographer is today's Sidney Baker Street.

A copy of this image is available HERE.
The other photograph, taken looking up Sidney Baker Street, shows what was called the Kellogg Building when I was a boy. When the photograph was taken, however, it was the Kerrville Hospital, and behind it, along Main Street, the Steagall Hotel, though by 1924 it was called the Bratton House.
In the distance you can see where Antler Stadium will be built in 1941.
I suppose my favorite part of this second photograph is in the foreground. It is the silhouette of a person in the middle of Sidney Baker Street. The person is facing the "Guarantee Garage." The way the person's right foot is extended, and the way the person's coat is billowing out, it looks as if a snowball has just been thrown, and the pitch captured on film.
I am so thankful to the kind couple who shared these images with all of us.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 24, 2017.

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