Abandoned mansion in Texas

Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion, Kerrville Texas
Date added: August 22, 2022 Categories: Texas House Mansion
North rear facade (1975)

The Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion at 216 Earl Garrett Street in Kerrville, Texas, is an unusual example of a combination of the Romanesque and Chateauesque styles. Designed by the famous Texas architect of the nineteenth century, Alfred Giles, the house was originally constructed in 1879 of native limestone. Unusual as it may seem since limestone was so readily available for building construction, the house was the first limestone structure built in Kerr County. Captain Schreiner, an immigrant from France, built one of the greatest mercantile-banking empires in the Southwest for which his palatial home was symbolic.

Charles Schreiner's father, Gustave Adolph Schreiner, was a French nobleman, having been born in the family castle "Reichenstein" at Riguewihr in the Vosges Mountains, upper Alsace, France. The lure of the New World fascinated him to the extent that he decided to start a new life in America. Monsieur Schreiner, his wife Charlotte, and their five children finally settled in San Antonio on September 23, 1852. Unfortunately, Gustave Schreiner died less than three weeks later leaving his eldest son Charles, then a boy of 14 years, with the responsibility of the family.

Charles joined the Texas Rangers in 1854 in an effort to protect the family from Indian raids. It was during this time that he bought a ranch in Kerr County and married Mary Magdalena Enderle. He also served as a captain for the Confederacy during the Civil War under General Walker in the Trans-Mississippi Department. At the war's end, he returned to his family in Texas and started a mercantile business. Schreiner Mercantile Store opened for business on Christmas Eve, 1869, and was the beginning of a great empire. The St. Charles Hotel was built in 1875 along with three other stores, a cotton gin, flour mill, and an artesian well. The town of Kerrville was founded and the first bank was built by Captain Schreiner in 1879.

It was during this same year that Schreiner commissioned Alfred Giles, one of the leading architects of the day, to design a house that would befit his wealth. Originally adjoining the Mercantile Store across from the courthouse, the house was rather plain in ornamentation. In 1895 Giles was again commissioned by Schreiner, this time to add a grandiose porch across the front in the Romanesque style of the day.

Among the many philanthropic gestures Captain Schreiner made to the city of Kerrville were contributions to bring the railway from San Antonio, to pave the streets, to build new highways, to establish the Veterans Administration Hospital, and to found a preparatory school for boys.

After Captain Schreiner's death in 1927, his heirs conveyed the mansion to the Kerrville Masonic Lodge for use as a Masonic Temple. It had been used for this purpose until 1972 when it was sold to Mrs. Roland Walters of Camp Verde, Texas.

Building Description

The Captain Charles Schreiner mansion located southwest and across the street from the Kerr County Courthouse is an unusual example of Romanesque-Chateauesque residential architecture. Designed in 1879 and modified in 1895 by the famous nineteenth-century Texas architect Alfred Giles, the house was the first limestone structure built in Kerr County.

Originally a simple two-story limestone residence with a typically rambling Victorian plan, the only distinguished features were the interior detailings. A grand hall with front and back stairs separated the parlor and library from the family dining room and servant's dining room. The kitchen was in the rear. Six bedrooms on the second floor also opened onto a central hall.

Desiring a more noble facade, Captain Schreiner commissioned the Giles-Guidon firm to design a grandiose porch for his house in 1895. Craftsmen were brought from Germany for the project with pink granite for the columns from Italy. The resultant facade is an unusual combination of Romanesque and Chateauesque idioms. Twin conical-shaped tile roofs flank either end of the porch, the Southeast end being a two-story rounded bay and the Southwest being an extension of the porch. Rounded arches with limestone voussoirs pronounce the openings in the facade in rhythmical fashion. A projecting parapet wall with a limestone pediment defines the entrance bay. A similar projection but slightly smaller in scale flanks the entrance projection to the east, further alluding to the random Victorian plan of the house.

Windows are typically Victorian, tall and narrow in proportion with two lights per sash. Cornice detailing is well pronounced with projecting brackets. Chimneys are low in height with simple beveled caps. A hipped standing-seam metal roof caps the composition.

Extensive interior alterations were made after the Kerrville Masonic Lodge acquired the property in 1927. The central staircase was removed and an elevator installed in the rear of the house. The interior walls that partitioned the six bedrooms and bathroom on the second floor were removed to accommodate a huge meeting room. However, such amenities as the original gas fixtures, mantles, wallpaper, and parquet floor on the first floor are intact.

Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion, Kerrville Texas Northeast (1975)
Northeast (1975)

Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion, Kerrville Texas North rear facade (1975)
North rear facade (1975)

Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion, Kerrville Texas Southwest facade (1900)
Southwest facade (1900)

Captain Charles Schreiner Mansion, Kerrville Texas South facade (1975)
South facade (1975)