Depot Square History

The San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railway was incorporated in 1884. As president of the railway, Uriah Lott had his eye on a nortwest expansion. A committee headed by Captain Charles Schreiner made sure that Kerrville, with a population of approximately 300, was chosen over Fredericksburg. "The tracks reached Kerrville in September and on October 6, 1887 at 11:45 an excursion train of six new coaches rolled into the city. It had left San Antonio with over 200 person aboard and pick up about 200 more along the line. It was greeted with hearty cheers and a salute of seven guns with music furnished by a brass band. A large barbecue was prepared with the roasting of fourteen beeves, twenty sheep and a number of goats."[1] Kerrville was the last stop on the narrow gauge SA&AP Railway, with a roundhouse built at the northeast corner of Paschal and Schreiner Streets to turn the trains. We have been told by several people that as kids, when they heard the train come in, they would run to the round house and actually help turn the train around!

Frank J. Beitel owned lumberyards in San Antonio and came to buy land. The deeds at the courthouse reveal that he purchased land from W.D.C. and Martha Burney of Kerr County on May 6, 1889. "The north east half of Block No. 3, in said town of Kerrville lying along and joining North Street about 420 feet, and bounded on the northwest by Clay Street and on the Southeast by Tchoupitalas Street (now Sydney Baker), containing tow acres of land more or less." Beitel paid eight hundered dollars and established his lumberyard.

March 20, 1915 The Kerrville Mountain Sun newspaper reported: "Since the old passenger depot was destroyed by fire in the later part of 1913, Kerrville has practically been without a passenger depot... The people of Kerrvill ehave been patient and long suffering in the matter of passenger depot facilities, and we are now going to build them a depot that wil ban ornament and a credit to the town." Mr. Beitel sold a piece of his land to the SA&AP Railway to build the new masonry building which is now Rails a Cafe at the Depot. In exchange he also received, on his land, a spur of the rail tracks long enough for three cars to load and unload materials. Beitel built two long buildings for retail space and lumber bins to line the tracks.

The properties shared a history from the start. The Lumberyard operated in Kerrville for 104 years, the last 58 years, owned and operated by Gus DuMenil. The original retail space and storage rooms were renovated at the end of 2007. The lumber bins, having never been built on a foundation, were not able to be saved. The renovation utilized some of the wood and old doors. Also repurposed were the old hail-damaged metal roofs now on the walls in the back "lumber" room. The original cypress shingle roof can be seen on the overhang of the open outside patio. The front room was the original show room.

Restoration included its oak floors, the fixing and painting of the box-beamed ceiling, and the saving and relocation of the original display shelves. The old Diebold file safe from Canton, Ohio was cleaned and left in place. When Ally Beitel ran the yard, he affectionately referred to it as the "Old House." We respectfully continue that tradition and use it now as Rails Events Hall where the public can continue to enjoy one of Kerrville's oldest remaining buildings.

On July 22, 1884 James Spicer bought a piece of land from Charles Schreiner at 433 Water Street. Mr Spicer was an immigrant from England, an artist, rancher, Judge and much more to the early Kerrville area. Upon his death a friend wrote, "... He possessed a deep love fro all mankind and exhibited that love throughout his long and useful life..." In 1896, he sold the building to the three oldest Dietert brothers, Theodor F. W., Emil Emanuel, and Edward who operated a Mercantile there for many years. When others continued to run the busienss it was often referred to as the "Old Dietert Stand." In 1916, it sold to Louis Schreiner and the building became known as the Schreiner Bowling Alley. A new long leaf pine floor was put over the existing rough-sawn 1" dimensional pine floor and a beautiful rock fireplace, said to be designed by Mrs. Schreiner, was added to the south wall. The building was used by his children for their entertainment - including dances, table tennis, and bowling. In 1924, George Morris, proprietor of the St. Charles hotel that stood at the north-east corner of Water and Sidney Baker Streets, purchased the building and converted it to apartments. Later, Queen Jones Dowd owned and ran the apartments from the mid-40's until her death in 1978. From there the building was used more for retail space.

The City of Kerrville purchased it in 2000, and scheduled it for demoltion to provide new parking for the library expansion. Instead, in April of 2011 the City Council wisely voted to save the building by allowing it to be moved. It was slid over from the basement on metal beams, wheels put under those and on June 30, 2011, it rolled 1/4 mile through town to its new location and became 415 Clay Street.

A major renovation took place... Though the rock fireplace could not be moved; most of the 30' x 80' structure was not changed. The apartments' lath and plaster walls were built on the Bowling Alley floor, the ones that are now restored. The stucco walls and wavy glass windows were repaired; brick work and front porch were added and a new patio area was built to connect the Depot space to the new shops. The old apartment spaces are now the Shops at Depot Square, including The Sweeter Side of Rails bakery, Hair by Heather Rollow, and Sleepy Side of Rails B & B.

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