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Sunday, March 6, 2022

A Puzzling Aerial Photo of Downtown Kerrville

Downtown Kerrville, around 1930.
The street in the center of the photograph is Water Street;
the street in lower left is Earl Garrett Street.
Click on any image to enlarge.

I was going through a box of old photographs given to me by my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller, when I came across a photograph taken from an airplane of downtown Kerrville. I’m sure I’ve published it here before, but I realized I had never stopped to look at it and figure out when it was taken.
The photograph was among others in a plastic sleeve. They didn’t look to be the original prints, but perhaps contact prints made from the original negatives. That’s good: working from an original gives the photograph a lot more detail. And you’ve probably guessed: I like photographs with a LOT of detail.
First off, what is in the photograph? A few blocks of downtown Kerrville.
In the upper left of the photo, you can see the campus of what will be Notre Dame Catholic School. There’s one important clue in the photograph, though. The old St. Mary’s Catholic Church is in the photograph. This was a wooden church building which was originally on Jefferson Street, behind what is today the Cailloux Theater complex, on the same lot as the Werlein Annex, but facing Jefferson. You can see St. Mary’s in the photograph, in its final location, at the intersection of Main and Washington streets, where the old Notre Dame Catholic Church stood (which is now used as administrative offices for the parish). Since the Notre Dame church building was dedicated on December 8, 1935, this photo was taken before that date.
Along Earl Garrett Street you can see several buildings which are no longer there – and one which is still there: the Baehre Building which was built in 1928. Today the Baehre Building is home to Rita’s Famous Tacos and Pax Coffee and Goods. In this photo it doesn’t look brand new.
Detail, Sanborn Map of Kerrville,
May 19, 1930.
The Blue Bonnet Hotel can be seen beside the Guadalupe River – and it’s an eight-story building. When the hotel was first constructed, it only had five stories (and designed to be enlarged later). That addition of three stories occurred around 1929.
In the lower right of the photograph, you can see the Cascade Pool, which was on the bluff above the Guadalupe River. It opened in 1929
The automobiles in the photograph are too tiny for me to identify, but they look like they could be between the 1929 and 1935 date. 
The old mill and ice house can be seen in the photograph, too, just above the Blue Bonnet Hotel. The mill’s diagonal dam can also be seen holding back the Guadalupe, and funneling it through the mill’s turbines.
I found an old map of Kerrville – a Sanborn Fire Map – which shows the same structures in the photograph. The map is dated May 19, 1930. 
So that’s my best guess: between May, 1930, and December, 1935. There is probably a clue I’m missing – and if I discover it, I’ll share it with you.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who flew above downtown Kerrville many times as a child – as a passenger, in tiny Cessnas, piloted by his mother, Pat Herring.

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  1. Hi, Joe.... As always, great information. Just the same, I am interested in the method of photography. What aircraft is the likely source of aerial photos of this time?

  2. When did the bridge go across the river?


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