A Unit of the Texas Historical Commission
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 FRIENDS OF THE KERR COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION

The Friends of the Kerr County Historical Commission, Inc. (Friends) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting the historic preservation programs of the Kerr County Historical Commission.  This group can accept money, property and collections without approval of the commissioners’ court.  This nonprofit organization functions as a separate group from the KCHC. It was founded for raising funds to restore the Union Church.

PROJECTS INCLUDE: THE OLD UNION CHURCH BUILDING


The Union Church Building in 1998 before being moved to the Schreiner University Campus.


The Restored Union Church Building today

In 1998, the Union Church Building was given to the Kerr County Historical Commission by Jim Nugent who also contributed generously toward the cost of restoring the building. Schreiner College graciously agreed to provide a site for the Church and the Historical Commission raised more than $200,000 to preserve this aspect of Kerr County's rich heritage. The building was then moved from its location on Lemos Street to the Schreiner University campus.

This project is now entering its final stage with the construction of the historic fence and landscaping of the grounds.

ABOUT THE UNION CHURCH BUILDING:
After the Kerrville community was initially settled, preaching was done by circuit riders in the homes or in camp meetings.  In Texas, at this time, various sects united in building one common building, but not often, for sectarianism was serious business in those days.

In the early 1880s, Mrs. Whitfield Scott (Harriet), a Presbyterian lady of action, determined that something must be done. She enlisted the help of her sister, Laura Gill (later Mrs. W. G. Garrett), Mrs. J. M. Starkey, a Methodist, and Mrs. Frank Coleman, a member of the Christian Church. By horseback or buggy they made house visits throughout Kerr County, giving families an opportunity to help build a union church.

When sufficient money had been collected, the church was built at a cost of $190. The building, 38 feet by 50 feet, was constructed on two lots (100 feet by 208 feet) which were given to the Union Church Association of Kerrville by Captain Schreiner. The handwritten deed for this transaction, dated September 10, 1885, is registered in the Kerr County Courthouse. The building was located at the northeast corner of Main and Clay Streets.

A church agreement was reached: One trustee was chosen to represent each participating denomination. "Methodist Episcopal Church South shall have the use of the building on the first Sabbath of each month, and ensuing week. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church shall have the use of the building on the second Sabbath and ensuing week; the Missionary Baptist, the third Sabbath and the Christian Church the fourth Sabbath and ensuing week." Others were to use the building by permission for religious services.  The first service held in the Union Church was on December 24, 1885, with all four denominations taking part. 

 

As each congregation grew and prospered, it built its own building until by 1900, only the Christian Church remained of the original four. Records show that it was shared with Lutherans (1901-1914); Church of Christ (1918-1924); and Jehovah Witnesses.

In 1925 the Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian groups relinquished their claim to the Union building and it became the property of the First Christian Church. In 1955 because of the demand for expansion, the two lots were sold. The original Union Church building was moved, remodeled, moved again twice and for many years housed an Army Surplus store at 216 Lemos St.

HISTORIC FENCE AT UNION CHURCH BUILDING

Most recently, the Friends of the County Historical Commission raised funds and/or in-kind contributions to repair,refurbish and install a wrought iron fence around the Union Church site. This is a relocation and restoration of the historic fence that once graced the lawn of the County Courthouse, built in 1886. Neither of these projects could have been done without the kind consideration and continued generous financial support of the citizens of Kerr County.

If you would like to help us preserve Kerr County history please make a donation to:

Friends of Kerr County Historical Commission
P O Box 291894,
Kerrville, TX 78029-1894