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Saturday, September 9, 2023

A mystery photo of Kerrville's Water Street -- when was it taken?

Water Street, Kerrville Texas.
When was this photo taken?  Who took the photo?

One of the challenges in identifying old photographs is determining when they were taken. There are old tricks I often use, such as looking at the year models of any automobiles in the photo, or looking at what was showing at various movie theaters, since the release dates of movies are now easily searchable on the Internet.

But what clues are available when there are no automobiles or movie theaters are in the photograph?

Last week, a kind reader sent in an old photograph of Water Street. It’s an image which I don’t remember seeing before. It was taken on Water Street, looking toward what is now called Earl Garrett Street. If you went to the north corner of today’s One Schreiner Center, and looked toward Francisco’s and the Schreiner Building, you’d be standing about where the photographer stood when taking the photo.

An 1893 photo -- without wool warehouse
In the photograph, the Water Street is not paved. There are several horses and buggies in the image. There’s no direct hint as to who took the photograph.

Still, there are several clues in the image, and I can pull information from other photographs in my collection to narrow down the date when the photograph was taken.

If you look at the largest buildings in the photo, which line the right side of the street in the image, there are three prominent structures. Going from left to right, the first is the Schreiner Wool Warehouse, which was later the home of Lehmann’s and later still, Winn’s; the next is the Schreiner Company building; and the third is the Weston Building, which is now home to Francisco’s Restaurant.

On the left side of the street is an advertising sign, which is partly obscured by leaves and shadows.

I have a photograph of the Schreiner Company store which was taken in 1893; the Schreiner Wool Warehouse is not in that photograph. Since the wool building was constructed in 1894 by Bruno Schott for Charles Schreiner, the mystery photo has to be taken after 1894.

The other clue is an advertising sign seen on the left-hand edge of the photograph. It is obscured by shadows and leaves, but it has a distinct supporting column, a pole which stands at an angle, and not perpendicular to the ground.

After a bit of guesswork, I finally figured out two words on that sign: in large letters is the word “Photographer;” and in smaller letters, on the far right side of the sign, “Cabinet.”

Cabinet photographs were a style of photograph which was widely used for photographic portraiture after 1870. They consisted of a thin photograph mounted on a card. These were often portraits of people, and most every family today has one of these cabinet photographs of an ancestor stuck in a drawer somewhere in their house.

The same sign, with a different business, 1896
A different photograph in my collection, which was taken in 1896, shows this same advertising sign – but in the 1896 photograph, it’s not an advertising sign for a photographer – it’s for a cobbler, H. H. Marshall.

Who was the photographer whose ‘shingle’ is shown in the mystery photograph? 

There was a photographer here from about 1894 - 1896 named Albert T. Glock, who specialized in 'cabinet' photographs. I believe the sign in the mystery photograph showed the location of his studio, in the 800 block of Water Street. I have two old newspapers from that period which contain advertisements for Mr. Glock’s studio, under the headline “A. Glock, The Photographer.”  It’s possible Mr. Glock took this photograph of Water Street.

Prior to his career in photography, Mr. Glock was a brewer, who pursued that craft in several places, including Fredericksburg.

So, based on these clues, I think this photograph was taken around 1895, making it one of the older photographs of downtown Kerrville in my collection. I’m very thankful to the kind reader who shared this photograph with me, and with our entire community.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. If you have something you’d care to share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 26, 2023.

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  1. Cool thanks for what U do👍

  2. Wow! This is the oldest picture of Kerrville I've seen. LOVE IT! Thanks so much for the GREAT article, Joe!!

  3. Good detective work as always. Thank you for making everyone's life a little brighter.

  4. Love these types of posts...great historical perspective of Kerrville.


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