Dr. William Rector probably put it into context best on Tuesday morning when he told the Kerrville City Council that Kerr County was just one of six of 254 Texas counties without a local history museum.
That’s not saying Kerrville is without a museum, after all we’ve got a world-class art museum with the Museum of Western Art, but we clearly do not have a cohesive way of sharing the story of this community, and it’s a great story to tell.
When Rector, along with those involved with the Heart of the Hills group, made a presentation on Tuesday about a proposed public-private partnership to convert the Water Street mansion of A.C. Schreiner into the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center. It’s an impressive plan with many key community stakeholders involved in the process.
There’s a lot of momentum in Kerrville right now to move initiatives forward, and this is another example that shows what a galvanized community group can do to better our community. Those involved with the shaping of this project, many of whom have been working on it since the fall of 2016, are committed to ensuring its success through a grassroots effort to raise the funds necessary to make improvements to the historic home and ensure that it has operational sustainability in the years to come.
The price tag on this is about $4 million and will require a mix of public dollars and private fundraising to make the dream a reality. The mansion, which was anonymously donated to the city, is under the care of the city’s parks and recreation department, and that will continue throughout the life of this project.
There’s no doubt that some city funds will end up going to the project, but this is an important cultural and intellectual enhancement to those who live here and those who will visit. Kerrville’s history — the good and the bad — is worthy of this endeavor for many reasons.
Part of that history was on display during the presentation itself when Kerrville architect Scott Schellhase made the presentation on how the building, which was constructed in the 1910s, would be transformed into a three-story museum and research center. Schellhase’s family once owned the home and made many improvements to it through the years. While Schellhase never lived there, he was key in helping his parents improve the home in the 1990s.
The project would also feature enhancements to the grounds of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, improved access to the Guadalupe River and a connection point to the proposed Kerrville Urban Trails System, which is moving along through its fundraising stage now.
There has been a lot of discussion about what Kerrville wants to be. We believe this project delivers on the promise of this community and builds upon our unique identity and place in the Hill Country, where the beautiful Guadalupe River is at the centerpiece. The improved library and museum campus, along with the KUTS plan, could showcase what’s possible for those wanting to come to Kerrville, including new businesses and new residents. It’s certainly a bright vision for what we hope will come together.
This is a good project. It needs our support; but, most importantly, it needs the support of all from this great community.