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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Pop Up Museum Display: Kerrville 1934

An economic map of Kerrville, as it was in 1934, during the Great Depression,
complete with 72 historic photographs of Kerrville homes, taken in 1934.

Click on any image to enlarge.
My patient friends at Pint and Plow have waited for months for me to complete the fabrication of an idea I had for a display there -- another of my "Pop Up" museum displays.
As you know, Kerr County lacks a history museum.  There is no one place that tells the story of our community's history.
The Walther family allows me, from time to time, to display historic photographs on the walls of their coffee shop (in the historic Dietert home, which is connected to their brewery and restaurant).  It's a kindness, actually, and I'm very thankful for their support.
Here's what's on display:
In 1934 the city government in Kerrville hired a contractor to take a photograph of every house on every street in the city limits.  While most of the photographs no longer exist, a little over 300 are still available today.  The Kerrville Genealogical Society has the best and most complete collection of these images.
The "yellow," or middle-value houses.
Decades later our family lived in
number 29.
Going through the photographs is like hopping into a time machine.  You feel as if you're walking down Kerrville streets in 1934, as one house after another is photographed.  In one, a mother is playing with her child on a blanket in the front yard.  In several, a group of children, including a boy with a baseball bat, follow the photographer from house to house.  In another set of photographs, a group of children, including one on horseback, follow the photographer as he makes his photographs.
These photographs were taken during the Great Depression.  Franklin Roosevelt had been president for about a year, and many programs of the New Deal had not yet taken effect.  It's a grim time for our nation -- and for our community.
To make the display, I selected 72 photographs that were representative of the entire collection.  I divided them by the value of the house in the photograph -- starting with one-room houses and progressing to mansions.   Each group of 12 photographs each is divided by the value of the house in the photograph.
Kerrville map, 1934.
The numbered dots indicate locations
of the houses in the photographs.
Then I color coded them.  Red was for the smallest houses; yellow for the middle-sized; green for the largest houses.  Then I numbered each of the photographs, from 1 to 72, and assigned the same color code to the number.
Next, I placed markers on a 1934 map of Kerrville -- a map drawn the same year the photographs were taken.   It quickly became obvious that the red (or smallest) houses were grouped together in several neighborhoods, while the green (or largest) houses were also grouped together in several areas.
In this way I could display a rudimentary economic map of Kerrville as it appeared in 1934.
The 72 photographs on display show the differences between the poorest of Kerrville and the richest of Kerrville, and the images are interesting to study.  I selected photographs which showed people whenever possible, because people are a great part of the story.
I've also selected many photographs of houses which are still in use today.  Many of the smallest houses are gone, but a lot of the other houses can still be found in Kerrville. You will probably recognize a house or two from the photographs.
Pint and Plow is located at 332 Clay Street, in downtown Kerrville It is open daily from 7:30am - 9pm, closed Tuesdays.  The pop up museum display is in the coffee bar area, in the old historic Dietert home.
This display is temporary and will be taken down soon. You're invited to stop by and check it out!  There is no charge to see the display, but while you're there, you really ought to try their coffee (or their beer, brewed on site).
Tell 'em Joe sent you.

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