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Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Museum for the Texas Hill Country

The home of Aime Charles and Myrta Zoe Schreiner, as it appeared in August, 2018.
Click on any image below to enlarge.
This week, with some fanfare, the City of Kerrville, in a joint workshop with the board of the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center, announced their partnership in housing and creating a new history museum to tell the story of the Texas Hill Country. The museum will be housed in the house at 529 Water Street, which was built in 1909 for A. C. and Myrta Schreiner. It’s the old mansion between the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library and our print shop, at the intersection of Water and Clay streets.
At that meeting, I was asked about the history of the old house. Here’s what I found:
Aime Charles Schreiner was the eldest son of Charles and Magdalena Schreiner. He was born in 1862 in San Antonio; In 1885, he married Myrta Zoe Scott, and together they had a daughter, Hester, and two sons, Aime Charles Jr., and Whitfield Scott.
A. C. Schreiner, Sr., at his desk,
Schreiner Company, Kerrville
A. C. Schreiner was very involved in our community, serving on the very first Kerrville City Council in 1889. A. C. was a member of Kerrville's volunteer fire department, and he was a mason with the Kerrville Masonic Lodge.
He was also active in his family's business, serving as president of the Charles Schreiner Company, which was the Schreiner store; president of the Schreiner Wool Commission Company; organizer and president of the Kerrville Telephone Company; president of the board of trustees of Schreiner Institute, which is now Schreiner University.
The Schreiner home before
the current house -- 1899.
He and other members of his family gave the land for Kerrville's post office, which now is the site of the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center; gave the land for what is now the V. A. Medical Center; and he and his wife Myrta built and donated the First Presbyterian Church building, the portion which is now called the 'Schreiner Chapel.'
His business interests included ownership of the Blue Bonnet Hotel. In addition, he served as president of the Kerrville Amusement Company, which operated the Cascade Swimming Pool and the Arcadia Movie Theater.
Myrta Scott Schreiner was born in 1865 in Bosqueville, Texas. She moved to Kerrville around 1880, when her father, Captain Whitfield Scott, purchased the St. Charles Hotel.
She was a deeply religious woman and was among those who organized the First Presbyterian Church of Kerrville. She served her community in many ways, including as chairman of various committees of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. She was a charter member of the Kerrville Women's Club, serving as president several times. She directed the choir at the Presbyterian church, and was a soprano soloist there.
529 Water, in 1973
It is said she influenced Captain Charles Schreiner to establish what is now Schreiner University, and also convinced him to associate the new school with the Presbyterian faith.
The house at 529 Water Street was not the first home of A. C. and Myrta Schreiner on that property.
According to one source, originally there was a small frame home there, built on property purchased from the Quinlan family.
Later, a much larger frame home was built was built there, which faced down Water Street toward the Schreiner store. I have not found out exactly what happened to this building, but I can see it in photographs as early as 1896.
The building standing at 529 Water Street today was completed in 1909. One source says it designed by James Flood Walker, who had an architecture practice in San Antonio. One project designed by Walker was the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Another source says the home was designed by Atlee B. Ayres, who served as the State Architect of Texas from 1914 to 1917. Ayres is known to have worked with other members of the Schreiner family on other projects, so it's possible he designed 529 Water Street.
529 Water, today
An interesting change happened between the 1896 home and the 1909 home: the current home doesn't face down Water Street, but rather the porches and front door face toward the rising sun, roughly toward the east.
A. C. Schreiner died at this home in 1935, at the age of 73. His widow, Myrta Scott Schreiner, also died at home in 1958, at the age of 93.
The house has had many owners since Myrta Scott Schreiner passed away there, including a couple, the Herman Beckers, who were Christian missionaries in China; A. P. Allison, who purchased it in 1959; the Harold Saunders family purchased it in the early 1960s and lived there; L. D. Brinkman purchased it in 1980; the last couple to live there, Walter and Barbara Schellhase, purchased the home in 1992.
In 2015, an anonymous donor purchased 529 Water Street from the Schellhases and donated the property to the City of Kerrville.
I’m thankful for the leadership of several folks in getting this museum project announced, including Dr. Bill Rector, president of the museum board; Mark McDaniel, city manager; two other members of the museum board, Linda Stone and Toni Box; and Scott Schellhase, the architect on the project.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has fond memories of playing at 529 Water with his childhood friend Kay Ann Saunders. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 25, 2020.

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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