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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Five Million for Kerr County History

Big things are happening at the A. C. & Myrta Schreiner home
on Water Street in downtown Kerrville.

I’ve been about to bust – keeping a secret. Finally, the news is public, and I can share it here.
As you may remember, a group called the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center has been working to create a history museum for our community. 
Working in partnership with the City of Kerrville, the Heritage Center developed a plan to turn the historic 1908 home of A. C. and Myrta Schreiner into a history museum. The Schreiner home is located at 529 Water Street, just to the left of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, and is part of the city’s library campus.
The purpose of the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center is “is to collect, preserve, interpret, and promote the cultural heritage and history of Kerr County and the Texas Hill Country through exhibits, educational activities and special events.”
A community is stronger if it knows its story. The Heritage Center is the place where our story will be told.
Renovating a 1908 house is expensive. Providing stable heating and cooling systems, as well as keeping the humidity inside the house within certain limits, is the only way historic artifacts can be displayed and preserved. In addition, the building needs to be made accessible to everyone, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; ramps must be built, and an elevator installed.
Display cabinets and exhibits need to be designed and fabricated. Other museum amenities, from a gift shop to public restrooms, need to be built. It’s a long list of expensive items.
In addition, it was decided the grounds of the library campus should be connected to the Kerrville River Trail.
Before construction and renovation could begin, $5 million needed to be raised. That goal was the first step in fundraising for the museum, and the checkpoint required before anything else could be begun.
Guess what? Last Tuesday evening, at the Kerrville City Council meeting, the board of directors of the Heritage Center announced $5,000.000 had been raised. The first part of fundraising is complete.
H-E-B Grocery Company, and the H. E. Butt Family Foundation, together donated $1 million. Funds donated to the City of Kerrville provided, roughly, another $3 million. That left $1 million to be funded, and the Heritage Center board was tasked with raising that money.
In addition to generous individual donors, the Heritage Center board is most grateful for the support of the Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation, the Perry and Ruby Stevens Charitable Foundation, the Friends of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, the Cailloux Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, and the Meadows Foundation of Dallas.
For my conservative friends, please note: these funds came from foundations and individuals.
While there are still many hurdles to clear – and much more fundraising to do – the idea for a local history museum is one step closer to reality.
I’m thankful for the leadership of Dr. William Rector, the tireless board chairman of the Heritage Center, as well as the other members of the board of directors: James E. Wright, PhD - Vice-Chair; Linda Karst Stone – Secretary; T. David Jones – Treasurer; Toni Box; Clifton Fifer; Donald S. Frazier, PhD; Charlie McIlvain; and Julius Neunhoffer. Former board members who also shaped the Heritage Center include Deborah Gaudier and Judge Tom Pollard. I also serve on the board of directors. 
City of Kerrville staff have been professional and helpful, and this project would not exist without the encouragement and support of the Kerrville City Council. Local architect Scott Schellhase has provided excellent design services. The success of this project will take the efforts of hundreds of people.
Gentle Reader, if you think I’m excited about this project, you just might be correct.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerr County and Kerrville historical items. If you have an item (or photograph) you’d care to share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 13, 2021.

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