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Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Historic Weston Building in Downtown Kerrville

The Weston Building in Kerrville
Two daring motorists, in front of the Weston Building,
at the intersection of Water and (then) Mountain Streets, circa 1920.
Click on any image to enlarge.
During the school year I seldom get to have lunch downtown with Ms. Carolyn, my teacher wife, but since Kerrville students had a holiday this past Monday, she met me for lunch downtown -- in between meetings and workshops held for the Kerrville Independent School District staff.
We met at one of her favorite places for lunch: Francisco's. The popular spot is owned by my high school classmate, Francisco 'Paco' Espinoza. We've enjoyed his restaurant from its earliest days, back when it was located next to the library in a row of former apartments, since moved to Depot Square.
Around 1990
As we were sitting outside I looked up at the old building, and wondered how many times it has been photographed over the years. Its location, at the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett, is one which is frequently part of community celebrations.
A different view
Parades of all kinds have marched near the building, from high school pep rallies, military parades, and even in the late 1890s, a regional Saengerfest celebration. Street dances have been held on the Star.
Lucky for us, people pulled out their cameras quite often to record the events -- and we get to see how the building looked in different chapters of its story.
Inside Chaney's
The building is called the Weston Building, after a family who ran a saloon on the site for many years. It's my opinion, however, it would be just as appropriate to call it the Barlemann Building, since that's the name of the family who built it and operated the first business there, the Ranch Saloon. It's been the home of many businesses over the last 127 years, including saloons, a combination confectionery/taxidermy business, a sports store, and a shoe shop. Today it's simply known as Francisco's.
The Weston Building in Kerrville
Nice awnings
The building was built in 1890 by Bruno Schott and Ben Davey. They built quite a few of the stone buildings in that era, including the Tivy School, and portions of the home of Captain Charles Schreiner.
As a boy I often hoped to find secret boxes filled with priceless items from the past. I know they exist, because one was once found in the Weston Building.
The May 19, 1927 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun: "Contents of Box taken from Weston Building Cornerstone Stir Memory of Old-Timers."
The Weston Building in Kerrville
One of my favorites
While the building was being remodeled, workers came across a small tin box, sealed with solder.
"By a very odd co-incidence, the man who lifted the box from its resting place in the cornerstone was Bruno Schott, the man who placed it there 37 years ago."
Methinks he knew where to look.

The Weston Building in Kerrville
The Mistletoe Regiment.  Photo
from the Lanza Teague collection
"When the building was constructed in August, 1890, for Charles Barlemann to house his Ranch Saloon, Bruno Schott was one of the contractors, his partner being B. A. Davey. Schott is one of the contractors remodeling the building, which, through force of legislation now houses the confectionery of R. H. Chaney."
The legislation in question was Prohibition.
The Weston Building in Kerrville
The box itself contained "photographs of Charles Barlemann, his wife and two babies, a communication signed by many of the county officials and leading citizens of that day, a list of persons who were employed in the construction work on the building, a letter written by Barlemann telling of the death of his wife a few months before, and a copy of the Kerrville News dated April 12, 1890."
The Weston Building in Kerrville
Wool wagons
Mrs. Barlemann, Jennie, was the daughter of Joshua Brown, the founder of Kerrville.
One of the letters found in the box read: "Texas Indivisible, now and forever. A. McFarland, Co. Clerk, Kerr County, Texas. August 13, 1890: F. M. Moore, Sheriff; Charles Barlemann; H. C. Greven; Otto Boerner, best beer drinker and blacksmith; Wm Schildknecht; W. E. Stewart, druggist; S. R. Craven, pill roller; B. A. Davey, Bruno Schott.
The Weston Building in Kerrville
Another letter read: "This building was built by Davey & Schott, contractors. Men that worked on the building are Gottleib Schwope, Bill Archer, Tom Farmer, Herman Meimann, Bonificio, Ad. Webber, Otto Webber, Charley Henkle, Fred Roth, Fritz Volmering, Sam Haught, Tim Benson, E. Smith, Eg. Jarinsky, Joe Babb, Alfred March, Harp Bruff, Sam Glenn, Old Man Pettie, W. B. Schott, Ben A. Davey, Arch. and Builders."
The cornerstone was laid on Barlemann's 27th birthday, so that old landmark building was built for a young man and his business.

The Weston Building in Kerrville
As I remember it when I was
a youngster, 1970s
And what became of the box and its contents? It was sent to one of the Barlemanns' daughters, Mrs. E. L. Johnson, in Gonzales, the only member of the Barlemann family living at that time. In the photo of the Barlemann family found in the box, she was just a little 6 mos. old baby.
I sure would like to see the box and its contents. And, of course, I'd like to find the other boxes still waiting, sealed behind stones and soldered tightly shut, hidden in downtown Kerrville.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes treasure hunts, especially when items of local history are found.  Please share your finds with him! This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 14, 2017.

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