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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Kerrville's Tulahteka: Just a simple starter home

Tulahteka, a Schreiner home in Kerrville, Texas
Tulahteka, built in the early 1920s as a home for Louis and Mae Schreiner.  Photo from 2018.
Until recently it was a corporate headquarters.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Several kind readers have forwarded me the real estate listing for what was until recently the headquarters building of the LDBrinkman Corporation. The building is for sale, though quite out of the price range of this rural printer.
Tulahteka, a Schreiner home in Kerrville, Texas
Tulahteka, probably in the 1930s
Few people have had the opportunity to travel up the hill and see the building there, catching only glimpses of a large cream-colored building from a distance. It sits on a hill just south of the river, above Sidney Baker South, roughly across the street from the entrance to Rio Robles Mobile Home and RV Park, behind an imposing steel gate and curving driveway.
While having lunch with my son this week in downtown Kerrville, I looked up the hill toward the old building and realized I'd never told its story here. I'll try to remedy this today.
What most of us know as a corporate headquarters building started out life as a family's home. It was built for Louis and Mae Schreiner, with construction starting in 1920. It took about 2 years to build.
The house was designed by Atlee B. Ayres, of San Antonio, and constructed by McCreary & Schott of Kerrville.
Tulahteka, a Schreiner home in Kerrville, Texas
Tulahteka during construction
The house itself had a name: "Tulahteka," which means "on the outer edge of town," though sources conflict from what language that word comes from. It's supposedly an Indian phrase, though there were hundreds of languages and dialects spoken by tribes of Native Americans; it might be a word from the subcontinent of India. I doubt anyone knows.
It is a big building: around 10,000 square feet, with two floors and a basement. The 800 square foot basement was blasted out of the limestone hill. The lower floor included a 21 by 40 foot ballroom, and a 21 by 64 foot grand hall. The grand hall featured Italian marble flooring and a large carved fireplace.
Three people lived in the five-bedroom house when it was built: Mr. and Mrs. Schreiner, and their daughter, Mae Louise.
Tulahteka, a Schreiner home in Kerrville, Texas
Tulahteka stairway, 2018
Louis Schreiner was the third child of Charles and Magdalena Schreiner; while his inheritance from them included many assets, most people remember Louis Schreiner as the son who ran the Charles Schreiner Bank.
Tulahteka is a grand home, a mansion built in the "Georgian" style. It features a palatial porch with Corinthian columns, facing roughly east, toward the rising sun. The grounds included gardens and other buildings. It was built by craftsmen, and it appears no expense was spared.
I have often wondered why this house seemed so much more grand than other houses built for the Schreiner family. I jumped to the conclusion it was because Louis was the banker.
That may be true, at least in part. But there may be another reason: Louis Schreiner's wife, Mae, was also from a prominent family. Her parents were Henry and Louise Shiner, who donated 250 acres of land in Lavaca County to the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad for right of way and a depot. A town soon grew up around the new transportation facilities, and became what is now Shiner, Texas. I'm guessing most of the town lots were sold by the Shiner family.
Tulahteka, a Schreiner home in Kerrville, Texas
Tulahteka, 2018
Mae Shiner Schreiner passed away in 1932, just 12 years after Tulahteka was started. Louis Schreiner remarried in 1936. In 1940, Louis Schreiner sold Tulahteka to a Houston oilman, William Morgan.
According to an excellent news story by my friend Michael Bowlin, published in this newspaper in 1991, other owners of the house include John Sullivan, who owned the house from 1946 to 1949; Robert and Louise Hays (1949-54); Maxine and James Short (1954-58); V.P. and Ergeal Tippett (1958-62); Clyde McMahon, W. D. Caldwell, Herman Swan and Lowell Renfro (1962-66); G. E. Lehmann and Gordon Monroe (1966-67); and C. F. Biggerstaff (1967-78).
L. D. Brinkman purchased the property in 1978 and spent years restoring and renovating the property, using it as headquarters for his company, and housing his extensive collection of American Western art.
In August, 2018, Mrs. Brinkman was kind enough to let my son and me take photographs of the house and its interior. We were fortunate to see the interior while the artwork collection was still on the walls.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys exploring historic sites in Kerr County. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 18, 2019.

I have two books available, both filled with historic photographs of Kerr County.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.

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