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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Time Travel to Downtown Kerrville, on a 40-year Loop

[Author's note: I've been busy on other projects, and took a break from this blog for about two months.  My apologies.  I'll try to do better in the future.  JRHJr]

After telescopes were invented, and photography came along, scientists used a simple technique to discover which heavenly objects moved across the constellations, things like comets, or our favorite dwarf planet, Pluto. They’d take photographs of the same neighborhood of the night sky over several nights, then compare them, back and forth, like a flipbook, using a device called a blink comparator. If they saw something moving across the sky, relative to the stars, it was worth studying further.
While there are no time-lapse photographs showing Kerrville from its origins in 1856 until today, there are some views which have been photographed over and over. One view which has been taken repeatedly is of downtown Kerrville, as seen from the tall hill just across the Guadalupe River from the intersection of Earl Garrett and Water streets.
Going through my files I realized I had three photographs of downtown Kerrville from this angle, taken at roughly 40-year intervals. The oldest was taken in 1903; the second, around 1941; the third around 1979. If I could take a new photograph of the same view this year, I’d have four photographs in this series.
While the four images wouldn’t show gradual changes, it might be fun to compare them. The series would show the big changes. (So, I won’t be able to play with a blink comparator with these images. Ha.)

Downtown Kerrville, 1903.
Click on any image to enlarge.

The first in the series was taken in 1903, by a child of C. W. Smith. The street in the middle of the image is now called Earl Garrett Street; at the time the photo was taken, it was still called Mountain Street. The streets parallel to Mountain Street in the image are, on the left, Tchoupitoulas Street (now Sidney Baker), and on the right, Washington Street. 
Going from left to right on the image, there is a white building on the far left: that’s Pampell’s. Today it’s the home of the Humble Fork Restaurant. Just to the right of the Pampell’s building you can see the balcony of the St. Charles Hotel, which was across Water Street. Then a frame building, and then a stone building, which is the Favorite Saloon building. A large stone building faces the camera next; it’s the Schreiner Wool Warehouse. Then there’s a gap, and a big stone building can be seen: Charles Schreiner Company. Just above Schreiner’s you can see the tower of Kerr County’s third courthouse, which is the tallest building shown in the photograph.
Across the gap of Earl Garrett Street, you can see the Weston Building, which is home today of Francisco’s Restaurant. It kind of blends in with the Masonic Building behind it on Earl Garrett; today that building is the home of Turtle Creek Olives & Vines. 
Then, where Washington Street heads toward the river bluff, you can see the Kerrville Roller Mill complex, which used water power from the Guadalupe to do everything from saw lumber to generate electricity.

Downtown Kerrville, around 1941

The next image was taken around 1941. A new bridge crosses the river on Sidney Baker Street; Pampell’s, the Favorite Saloon building, the Wool Warehouse, and Schreiner Company can still be seen, though the Schreiner building has been remodeled. The courthouse has changed, too. It’s the fourth Kerr County courthouse, the one still in use today, which was built in 1926. Across from the wool warehouse building something new has sprung up: the Arcadia Theater, also built in 1926.
At Earl Garrett Street, there’s a big eight-story building: that’s the Blue Bonnet Hotel. The other buildings along Earl Garrett are hidden behind it. 
At Washington Street, remnants of the old mill can be seen in the form of the Ice Plant.

Downtown Kerrville, around 1979

Next, we time-travel to about 1979. The biggest building in this photo is the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital, at the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets. Though across the street we can still see Pampell’s, the Arcadia, the Wool Warehouse, and Schreiner Company. The Weston Building (Francisco’s) can be seen, but the Blue Bonnet Hotel is gone, as is all but the basement and foundation of the old Ice Plant. The Park Lane Apartments have shown up, like wildflowers, across the river from downtown. (They’re still there today.)

Downtown Kerrville, October 18, 2021

And then we travel to this week, October 18, 2021. I didn’t climb the hill south of the river to take this shot; I used a small drone. The only structures I see that have survived from that first image are Pampell’s, the Favorite Saloon, the Masonic Building, and the Weston Building. The Schreiner Building can be seen, but as it appears after the 1919 remodel. The basement of the old Ice Plant can still be seen, too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey. Let’s check back in about 40 years.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old Kerr County and Kerrville items – if you have something you’d care to share with him, it would make him happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 23, 2021.

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  1. I love seeing these photos through the years from basically the same vantage point. Especially since you know what each building was named and used for at the time. Thanks for sharing.
    I notice when I click on a photo to enlarge, it actually shows up smaller than the photo in the article. Am I doing something wrong to view the photos larger?

  2. I would love for you to give a showing on our history of Kerrville photos.❤️❤️

  3. I was born here in December 1958 I sure love seeing these old pictures. Thank you so much

  4. I love these pictures and all the history. Thank you so much for sharing!


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