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Sunday, September 9, 2018

The skeleton of a library

Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, February 1967
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library under construction,  late February 1967.
505 Water Street, Kerrville.
Click on any image to enlarge.
I recently came across a series of photographs taken in late February, 1967, which surprised me.
They show the steel going up during the construction of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library on Water Street in downtown Kerrville.
Having spent so much time in the library as a child, seeing its circular frame taking shape in the photographs was interesting to me, as if I was looking at x-rays of the building.
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, February 1967
BHML, Feb. 1967
A crane is on the site, lifting beams and material. Men in coveralls, with their heads protected from the cold, assemble the building. The photographs are nicely framed, and the shape of the building against the sky is graceful.
The surprising thing to me was the date: the last week of February, 1967. I know the library had its grand opening celebration on August 26, 1967. How on Earth did they finish that elaborate building so quickly?
The library building, at 505 Water Street, built on a site overlooking the Guadalupe River, was a gift of Howard and Mary Butt, both Tivy graduates with family ties in Kerr County, and dedicated as a memorial to their families. It was designed by the architectural firm of Christian, Bright & Pennington of Corpus Christi, and construction was under the supervision of J. H. Daniel of San Antonio, with Lawrence Goodrich the foreman in charge of construction. The landscape architect was Durward Thompson.
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, February 1967
BHML, Feb. 1967
Construction work began in November, 1966. At the time of the photographs, the foundation had been completed.
Overall, the building had floor space of over 21,000 square feet on three floors, and closely resembles in appearance and design the library built for the University of Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1963. That library building was also a gift of Howard and Mary Butt, and is still in use on what is now the Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi as an administration building.
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, February 1967
BHML, Feb. 1967
Our library in Kerrville features a mural of Kerr County history by Merrill Doyle, and mosaic tile artwork by Salina Saur. Tiles by Mary Green decorated the amphitheater, featuring characters from books for children. The decoupage panels decorated the children's reading area were made by Christine Gerber. Dotted around the property were quotes from literature and phrases from poetry, selected by Mary Butt.
From beginning to completion, the planning and construction of the building took about 18 months.
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, August 1967
Dedication Ceremony,
BHML Aug. 26, 1967
At the dedication ceremony, Howard Butt thanked his wife Mary for her dedication to the project.
"If this building's beauty, character, and functional qualities are above the ordinary," he said, "I want to pay tribute to my wife who has dedicated at least a year and a half of her life to planning it."
Lady Bird Johnson, who attended the dedication ceremony, also praised Mary Holdsworth Butt's work on the library.
Moving books to Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, Aug 1967
Children helping move books
to new library.
"Mrs. Butt," the First Lady said, "who has become conversant with every brick and stone and light plug since its inception tells me that it has room to grow immediately from its wonderful collection of 20,000 to 75,000 volumes. With great relish she told me of the day the school children carried loads of books from the old library into this one, and of last week how so many of the community leaders were handling the phone calls and last-minute chores to prepare for this day."
Still, on that cold week in February, 1967, only a few workmen were at the building site. Steel was pointing to the sky, but the second floor was not yet completed, nor was the roof or walls. I'm surprised they finished it in time, though I now have a better appreciation for the motivational skills of Mary Elizabeth Holdworth Butt.  The library opened on schedule, thanks, in part, to her hard work.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who started first grade at Starkey Elementary one week after the library was opened and was truly thankful it was so near the print shop.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 8, 2018.





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