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Sunday, August 5, 2018

A cache of Kerrville photos from the 1930s

Julius and Emma Mittanck home, Kerrville, 1930s
The home of Julius and Emma Mittanck, 725 Sidney Baker Street, Kerrville, 1930.  Note boy on sidewalk.
Taco Bell is on the site today.
Click on any image to enlarge.
In the early 1930s, an unknown employee of the City of Kerrville systematically photographed houses and buildings all over town for use in documenting the city's tax rolls, walking along the street and stopping at each address to snap a photo. While I do not have a complete set of the negatives, the ones in my collection show a very interesting view of Kerrville as it appeared over eight decades ago.
Each negative corresponded with separate property description form, where the square footage of structures was recorded, and a rough estimate of value was calculated for tax purposes.
504 Tivy, Kerrville, 1930s625 Myrta, Kerrville, Texas 1930s808 Earl Garrett, Kerrville, Texas 1930s624 Washington, Kerrville, Texas 1930s609 Jefferson, Kerrville, Texas 1930s608 Earl Garrett, Kerrville, Texas 1930s513 Earl Garrett, Kerrville, Texas 1930s325 Clay, Kerrville, Texas 1930sThis week I found an old envelope filled with a group of these city negatives I'd never scanned. I was anxious to see what treasures might appear as the images appeared on my computer screen.
Most of the images are of residences, though there are a few images of business buildings.
Seeing the old buildings was fun, but seeing clues around the old buildings was even more fun.
Like the Google Maps car, which captures all sorts of things as it passes through a neighborhood, the city employee caught a lot things beyond the structures.
In one, a child is walking in his yard. In another, a dog rests on the porch. There are summer houses in backyards, and rocking chairs on porches. A child plays with a doll on the porch of 504 Tivy Street. There are porch swings, gliders in yards, swings hanging from tree limbs.
I notice there are no leaves on the trees, but also notice none of the people in the photographs are really bundled up, either. Perhaps they were taken on a nice day in early March.
Many of the structures on some streets are still there today. Other streets have hardly any surviving buildings.
Earl Garrett Street, for instance, has a surprising number of homes shown in the 1930s photographs that are still standing today, though many of the buildings are no longer residences, but are now used for commercial purposes.
Sidney Baker Street, however, was once lined with homes. Almost all are now gone, replaced by business buildings and parking lots.
I am old enough to remember some of the houses which are now gone.
There was a grand house on Sidney Baker Street when I was growing up, though by then it was in sad disrepair. It had a big porch and a porch turret in the corner. I was happy to find a photograph of this particular house in the newly scanned photographs. It is labeled "J F Mittank," though a 1930 census shows a Julius Frank Mittanck at 725 Sidney Baker Street. Mr. Mittanck was in the creamery business with the American Creamery Company here, which was on Water Street near our print shop. He was also in the grocery business, his family owning the Hillbilly Grocery Store at Sidney Baker and Barnett streets.
Around the time the property tax photos were taken, Mr. Mittanck was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Kerrville, running on the "People's Ticket" against A. T. Atkins. (None of the "People's Ticket" candidates won.)
The Mittanck home was built in 1907; its last mention in the news was in 1987, in a story written for this newspaper by my friend Michael Bowlin, when the building was condemned by the city.
I believe the Taco Bell restaurant now stands on the site today.
I remember another home shown in the 1930s photos which stood at 624 Washington, directly across the street from the front doors of First Baptist Church. I had forgotten about the old house until I saw the photos, but its front porch, built with river stones, was quite impressive.
I'm sure we boys of the church gave those property owners fits, crossing their property all of the time, when we should have been inside the church.
That building was torn down, too, and is now a parking lot.
Jefferson Street and Main Street, in the downtown area, also had many homes, though few remain today. Clay Street still has a nice collection of older homes.
For a feel of what our community looked like back in the 1930s, a drive down Earl Garrett Street might be your best bet. It's surprising how many of those old homes are still there.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historic photographs of Kerrville and Kerr County. If you have any you'd let him copy, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 4, 2018.

1 comment:

  1. 808 Earl Garrett was my childhood home from 1967 to 1975!! Super cool pic!


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