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Sunday, April 4, 2021

Newly discovered photographs: dedication of the new Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, August 1967

Dedication ceremonies, Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, August 1967.
Click on any image to enlarge.

I am always so thankful when people share Kerr County historical items and photographs with me. Almost every week I get to see items which tell a part of our community’s story, and many times it’s a part of our story I’ve never seen before.
This week, for instance, a kind person shared some pages her grandmother, Sara Given Rockey, wrote about the opening and dedication of Kerrville’s Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, which included some photographs taken by A. C. Jorns and John LaFleur.
While I’ve written several times about the library and its opening ceremony, the news story written by Ms. Rockey captures a lot of the excitement of that day, since it was written very close to the event. The gift of the library to our community was a very big deal, and Ms. Rockey’s story conveys its importance.
The ten photographs are important, too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them. It’s like discovering new history.
Ms. Rockey called her news story “A Town’s Beatitude.” I looked up the word; beatitude means supreme blessing or happiness.
“Accompanied by Secret Service men, a cream car rolled into town,” she begins. “It went down streets festive with flags. When it stopped in front of a round building of white stone and glass, a smiling lady stepped out to be greeted by state dignitaries and town officials, the high school band, and 3,000 glad-hearted people – nearly a fourth of the population of Kerrville, Texas.
“Mrs. Lyndon Johnson came to give an address. It was dedication day, August 26, 1967, of an extraordinary library, the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library. The First Lady, in lime-green linen, talked from a high porch of the library to the celebrating people gathered below.
“‘This setting,’ she said, ‘with the handsome functional building overlooking the Guadalupe River below, is breathtaking. I thought I was prepared for it, but when I see the beauty of it, it takes my breath away.’”
For those of us who grew up with the library, and have visited it for decades, its setting, and the beauty of the spot on which it was built, can still be surprising. I remember my first visit to the library. It was with my father, and the building was not yet completely finished or open to the public. Merrill Doyle, who painted the mural on the 2nd floor, had invited us over to see his work in progress. I was almost six years old, but I remember it clearly. I thought the new library was wonderful, and I couldn’t wait for it to open.
Ms. Rockey wrote about Mary Holdsworth Butt, and her dedication to the library project.
“About once a week Mrs. Butt flew the 280 miles from Corpus Christi, where they now live, to Kerrville, once their hometown.
“Mary Holdsworth Butt wishes every town had a library. She wishes everyone read books. ‘My parents saw to it that I took the English poets for breakfast along with my oatmeal.’
“Especially did Mrs. Butt give loving care to particulars for the children’s area. If you have a four-year-old boy along with you when you come, he can lie on his stomach on a thick, soft carpet, the color of polished brass, and ‘read’ a picture-book. A little girl can curl up on a gold padded window seat and lean against a puffy pillow and read. The window seat is divided into four cozy sections by panels. Each panel is a decoupage beautifully made with illustrations from well-loved children’s books.”
Oh, the hours I spent there as a child! I walked down from the print shop and sat on those very window seats and read everything I could put my hands on in the children’s section. What happy memories.
I’m thankful to the kind person who shared these items with me – and with our entire community. And I’m very thankful to Howard and Mary Butt for building a library and giving our community – especially the children of our community – a wonderful place to read.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerr County historical items. If you have something to share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times April 3, 2021.

Yep -- you can help produce this free newsletter by sharing it with someone.  Sharing is certainly caring. (A special thanks to everyone who purchased my books last week.)

1 comment:

  1. My entire family was there that day, it was quite memorable to a ten year old in 1967. I had the opportunity to talk with Lady Bird many years later in Austin and shared with her my memories of that special day, she said she remembered it well. I'll have to get out a magnifying glass and see if I can pick any of us out in the photos! Thanks for posting these Joe!


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