1. FORT MASON HOTEL / MASON NATIONAL BANK (103 Westmoreland)
Mason National Bank is located on a tract of land known as Mill Block because a steam-powered cotton gin operated here before 1900. Later Mason Power & Light Co. operated here. The company had a curfew on use of electric lights so they could shut the plant down at night. Originally, only two buildings were located on this side of the Square, one at each end. The rest was pastureland. In 1928 the Fort Mason Hotel, a brick 4-story building with 54 rooms, ballroom, barber shop and drugstore was built on this site. Mason National Bank bought the Fort Mason Hotel in 1966 and removed the top two floors. The two bottom floors were converted into the bank building.
The benches you see in front of the bank and elsewhere around the Square are features of the Mason Main Street Program. The benches have now been updated even more thanks to an effort from the Riata Service Organization in 2008. In 2003, Mason National Bank completed an extensive restoration of the building’s exterior, just in time for the bank’s centennial in 2004. According to George Brannies, president of the bank, the bank was proud to be able to restore the building to an architectural design in keeping with historic Mason.” Look at the courthouse.
2. MASON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
This is the third Mason County Courthouse, designed by Dallas architect E. C. Hosford and built in 1909-1910, currently celebrating its 100th anniversary. It is Classical Revival style and cost $39,786, according to county records. The elaborate metal cornices projecting above the eaves were constructed by the Lange family, who moved to Mason from Brenham after finishing this project. During the 1980s the exterior of the courthouse was repainted using original colors. Most rooms have a fireplace trimmed with ornately-pressed metal. The district courtroom was renovated with a grant from the Texas Historical Commission in 1986. Originally the courthouse lawn was packed dirt with mesquite trees.
The stately pecan trees of today were planted during the 1930s. The fine stonewall surrounding the courthouse lawn was built by local contractors Henrich and Ischar in 1927-28. Mason County is currently moving forward with possible plans to participate in the Texas Historical Commission's Courthouse Restoration program. If selected, the county's beautiful landmark will soon be getting a facelift, possibly as early as 2012. The other two buildings on the grounds were built in the 1940s under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In June 1938 the firehouse burned with all fire fighting equipment and trucks. The town raised $1,237 for new fire fighting equipment the next day after the fire. In September, Commissioners Court started plans for a new fire station with the aid of a WPA loan.
The stone in the structure was obtained from the old Koocksville Mill, northwest of town. The other rock building was constructed of native stone and brick and now serves as public restrooms. Today the old firehouse houses Mason Law Enforcement Center. Walk west on Westmoreland to Polk Boot Shop.
3. POLK BOOK SHOP (107 Westmoreland; marked 118)
This small, white 2-story building, built in the 1940s, occupies the site of a garage where the city fire truck was stored in early days. This arrangement worked fine until the garage burned—with the fire truck inside. Walk west to the Mason County Jail.
4. MASON COUNTY JAIL (109 Westmoreland)
In 1893 two houses occupied Mill Block. This area was vacant until the jail, Mason County’s third, was erected in 1894. Mrs. Rick, who operated a boarding house on the west end of the block, was consulted to see if she had any objections to the jail being built so close to her. She asked that there be a fenced lot and a 25-foot alley between the jail and her property.
She also required that the public outhouse on the courthouse grounds be removed. The jail, built in a modified Romanesque Revival style, had living quarters for the sheriff on the first floor and cells on the second floor. The early jail builders did their job well; the jail still meets minimum state standards and is used to house prisoners on the occasions when this is necessary. Next, cross Post Hill Street.
5. H. J. HOFMANN BLDG./CITIZENS INSURANCE/SOUTHERN BRITCHES (201/203 Westmoreland)
The fenced lot Mrs. Rick required be left between her and the new jail became the site of the Airdome Open Air Theater in the early 1900s. A little later, traveling tent shows were held here. Mrs. Rick may have wished she had not asked for that empty lot, as it apparently afforded her very little peace and quiet. Still later, the lot became Henry Hofmann’s lumberyard and carpentry shop.
This building has been newly renovated and is the home of Hemphill Insurance, is the home of Citizens Insurance, as well as Southern Britches Women's apparel and accessories. Walk west to the corner of Westmoreland and Moody. Stop under the First State Bank sign. Look at the 2-story Kurt Martin House across the street.
6. KURT MARTIN HOUSE (204 Moody)
The Kurt Martin House, the site of Mason’s first private club, was built of concrete blocks cast locally. Notice the color bas-relief of a Hereford bull at the peak of the garage. Past occupants of the house kept Nubian goats in the back, which has a concrete block fence around it. One goat, Opal, liked to jump up on top of the fence. City work crews across the street would yell at her to get back in the pen, and she would promptly obey. Soon anyone driving by knew to yell, “Opal, get back in your pen!” whenever they saw her on the fence. Charles and Loretta Elbel, the current residents of the home, have preserved the architectural integrity of the structure and its environs, while "spiffing" up the area. Walk north on Moody Street along the rock wall.
7. OLD POST OFFICE (200 Moody)
The old Post Office Building, which was built and dedicated in 1960, was purchased by Mason County in 2009 for use as a county annex.
8. CITY OF MASON OFFICES (124 Moody)
The City of Mason offices are located in this renovated 1923 Mission Revival style building that once served as local offices of West Texas Utilities Company (WTU). Earlier, the site had been the location of several wagon yards and a warehouse. The tasteful paint job and the locally-made sign are results of the Mason Main Street program. The three look-alike houses directly behind City Hall on Westmoreland Street were built by WTU as employee housing.
9. ODEON THEATER (122 Moody)
Next to City Hall is the Odeon Theater, which has been in continuous operation since 1928. Odeon is the Greek word for theatre. In the late 1950’s the Odeon was the site of the pre-premier of Walt Disney’s Old Yeller, the classic movie about a boy and his dog based on Mason native Fred Gipson’s book by the same name. A bronze statue of Old Yeller stands in front of the Mason County Library, two blocks south of the Courthouse on Post Hill Rd.
The Odeon Preservation Association, Inc. (OPA) purchased the building in September 1994 and is an ongoing process of renovating it. The neon along the top of the building has been replaced and the Odeon is lit up every night! Activities at the Odeon include first run movies, vintage movies, theater productions, and Mason County Opry held once a month.
10. OTTO SCHMIDT BLDG./REIGNING CATS & DOGS (120 Moody)
Otto Schmidt, the owner of the Odeon Theater at the time, constructed this building in 1948 to be used as a photography studio by his son. Ramona Kelso purchased this building in 1966, first operating a gift shop. Ramona retired in late 2007 after having brought art to the square for 40 years and the building was sold to Tommy and Lenore Newsom who have opened Reigning Cats & Dogs. This wonderful shop offers every type of accessory and need for your pets, while also offering grooming services for those pets. Lenore provides training for dogs, and they also board dogs for those times when your pet is unable to accompany you out of town.
11. Matilda Zesch Bldg./Square Café (118 Moody)
In 1928, Matilda Zesch built this building on what had been the site of a wagon yard. The building has contained a furniture store, a Western Auto Store, and a restaurant. The space is currently vacant.
12. HOERSTER BLDG. (114 & 110 Moody)
Market Square & Vacant This site, where the majestically restored façade now stands, once held a building erected about 1869 by Dan Hoerster. Hoerster became brand inspector for the county and was shot near here in 1875 during the HooDoo War. Hoerster’s brother Fritz built a new building on this site in 1906, known locally as the Leifeste building due to the business that was located in this building for so long.
The elevator that was used to lift buggies to the second floor can still be seen on the 2nd floor. Leifeste’s elaborately decorated pressed metal front had been mostly obscured by multiple coats of paint over the years. When the old paint was stripped and the designs were discovered, the decision was made to highlight the decorations by hand, a project that took three months.
Afterwards, this building had the most striking storefront on the Square. Market Square (114 Moody), which was previously located on the north side of the Square now resides here. It is a wonderful shop offering a wide variety of unique gifts and furnishings, and is well worth a visit.
13. COMMERCIAL BANK (100 Moody)
The Commercial Bank was founded by Mrs. Anna Martin and her sons, Charles and Max, in 1901, and was originally located in Hedwigs Hill, ten miles south of Mason near the Llano River. Martin is the first woman to found a bank in the United States that is still in existence. She was also a rancher and is the only woman listed on the monument to Mason County ranchers and trail drivers on the east side of the courthouse lawn. The Commercial Bank occupied several sites around the Square over the years. Its current site was occupied by a saloon in the late 1800s, followed by a Piggly Wiggly Grocery and other businesses during modern times.
The current bank building was constructed in 1965, and in 1976, the bank purchased the Larrimore building on the south side, expanding its facility into that building. The Commercial Bank’s board room houses the personal collection of wood sculptures and bronzes of Gene Zesch, Mason County’s world-famous artist. The collection is open for public viewing during banking hours. If you want to know the time, temperature, and weather in Mason call (325) 347-8212. If you need a cup of coffee or a soft drink, stop by during banking hours. Walk to the northwest corner of the courthouse wall. Look at the buildings along the north side of the Square.
With few exceptions, all the buildings received facelifts and new paint jobs during the Main Street Project. This locally-funded project began in 1985, spearheaded by Patsy Zesch and Barbara Pluenneke, and brought a renewed sense of community pride to Mason. Local bankers set up a low-interest loan program for people who wanted to borrow the money but most building owners paid cash for the work on their buildings. As one of the local bankers put it, “People in Mason like to paddle their own canoe.”
That spirit of independence, tempered with a willingness to cooperate for the good of the community, goes far to explain the success of many community improvement projects Mason residents have engaged in over the years. Two examples are the local tennis complex, which attracts tournament entries from all the U.S., and the golf course at Ft. Mason Park. Both projects were totally funded by local contributions. Cross Ft. McKavitt to the sidewalk in front of the Ranck Building.
14. RANCK BLDG. / SAM'S ANTIQUES (246 Ft. McKavitt)
Mason was once a Ranck town-spelled R-a-n-c-k—due to the efforts of an early booster, James Ranck. Ranck came to Mason in about 1860. He said that he arrived while Robert E. Lee was still the commander at Fort Mason, which you can see on the hill behind you, over the top of the beautiful deodar cedar tree in front of the Bill Martin House (see #6.). Ranck was the first Mason County resident to own land on the Square.
With his partner and brother-in-law, William P. Lockhart, Ranck owned the north side of the Square. This building at the northwest corner of the Square was erected about 1875 and is one of the oldest surviving buildings on the Square. James Ranck built his store on this corner because he liked the large live oaks, which grew in the area then. The store had living quarters on the second floor, and both the Rancks and the Lockharts lived upstairs. In 1886 a wedding reception reported to total 1,000 guests was held upstairs. Surely they all did not arrive at the same time! Anna Martin started her Commercial Bank here in 1901. She had paid $4,600 for the building and its contents in 1893.
A wood frame addition to the west was removed in 1986, and the ground was littered with square nails. Now, this space houses an antique store filled with antiques, collectibles and treasures.
244 – 238 FT. MCKAVITT
The history of these buildings is rather murky, but it is known that a saloon, a tobacco and stationery store, and a grocery operated here at one time or another. Note the fine pressed metal ceilings on the awnings in this block.
15. Uptown 244 - Events Center (244 Ft. McKavitt)
Formerly Cocoa Luna owned by Craig and Carol Conlee, they now offer Mason an exciting and beautiful event space that you can lease for your holiday parties, wedding and shower receptions and office entertaining, located on the north side of the square.
16. Renee Walker Real Estate (242 Ft. McKavitt)
This real estate company offers a wide variety of residential and commercial listings.
17. Currently Vacant (240 Ft. McKavitt)
18. Currey’s Fabrics (238 Ft. McKavitt)
An old fashion fabric store offering materials, quilting and sewing supplies.
19. HENDERSON BLDG. / HINCKLEY’S COUNTRY STORE & RED DOOR B&B (226 Ft. McKavitt)
This building was the site of a bank started in 1897 by F. W. Henderson, son of Texas’s first governor, J. Pinckney Henderson. The Hendersons lived in high style above their Bank of Mason, with oriental rugs and ornate furniture gracing floors painted white while French doors opened onto a front balcony. Anna Martin moved her Commercial Bank here in 1903. The building later became the headquarters of Mason Independent School District before reverting to retail use.
The building housed the Winn’s Variety Store until 1994. Brent & Monica Hinckley purchased and renovated the building, then opened a locally owned variety store in 1995. There’s a little bit of everything in this store from crafts to gifts to household wares. The red door to the right leads to the Red Door B&B and the Hinckley’s secondary residence.
Hofmann Bldg. / Hoerster Bldg. (220 – 218 Ft. McKavitt)
These two stores are really one building, with no firewall between and a common stairway. William P. Lockhart operated a general store on this site for many years, and in early times county government met upstairs in his “courting room.” In the 1880’s Mason had nine individuals who styled themselves doctors, and many had their offices in these buildings—sort of a 19th century medical center. Note the Mesker Brothers cast-iron fronts on these buildings.
Originally the structures had wooden “western-style” fronts. The cast-iron fronts were added after 1900. If you look closely at the cast-iron fronts, especially those you will see later on in this block, you’ll see that the decorative parts are bolted onto plain columns. In this way customers could choose different styles, while the manufacturer kept costs down by producing only a limited number of column styles. When considering these columns, it is worth remembering that Mason has never been served by a railroad. All the massive cast-iron work had to be freighted in by wagon.
20. THE SHOOTING STAR (220 Ft. McKavitt)
The Hofmann Building, as well as a number of other buildings on the north side of the Square, has a decorative tile entry with the name of the store worked into the tile design. These decorative touches often provide valuable information about the history of the building. This building formerly housed Hofmann Dry Goods Company that was in continuous operation for more than 100 years. Carolyn Copeland of The Shooting Star offers her unique wares and merchandise from her own location on the square.
21. RANCHLAND WESTERN WEAR (218 FT. MCKAVITT )
The threshold of Ranchland Western Wear reads Hoerster Building, note the old fans above the recessed entry. This new shop offers western clothes, accessories, fine art, and jewelry that will meet any shopper’s fancy.
22. SEAQUIST BLDG./ THE SQUARE PLATE (212 Ft. McKavitt)
Note the Seaquist name in the tile at the entry. Oscar Seaquist, who owned the Seaquist Mansion, had a shoe and boot business on one side of this building and a restaurant on the other. The Square Plate, a dining establishment, recently finished an extensive remodeling of the building, and is now serving lunch all during the week.
23. SMITH BLDG. / BENJIE’S BOOKS & GIFTS (208 Ft. McKavitt)
This site once held wooden “western-style” buildings that housed businesses such as a jewelry store and tailor shop. These old buildings were probably demolished in the 1920’s and the present structure erected. The east half of the building was the site of the latest in a long line of barber shops, the last of which closed following the death of the owner in 1986. The old advertising mirror from the shop now hangs in the Mason County Museum. Benjie’s has a large selection of books written by local writers some famous and some not so famous, like Fred Gipson, Russell Tinsley, Burton & Rene Pritzker, and Mike Shanley & Gail Coldiron! Also, Benjie’s stocks an extensive collection of Texana books including history, travel, plants, animals & wildflowers as well as local history.
24. MASON BANK BLDG./MASON COUNTY TAX APPRAISAL DISTRICT OFFICE (200 Ft. McKavitt)
This sandstone building with its chamfered corner entry, ribbon lights, and marble trim has its former name preserved in marble and tile at the entry-Mason National Bank. Before this structure was erected, the site was the location of the Early Dawn Meat Market run by Leo Zesch. Early photographs around the Square show that this building was originally a 1-story building with a second story constructed c. 1918. Walk east across Broad Street.
25. SEAQUIST BLDG. C. 1914 / JACK LEE, ATTORNEY AT LAW (100 Broad Street)
The granite column marked “O. Seaquist 1914” tells only part of the story of this building. The Mason Post Office was once located on the site in a wood frame building that burned in 1900. In 1913, Oscar Seaquist bought the site for $3,000 and hired an architect to design a 1-story building. However, a second story was added to accommodate a local lodge needing a meeting place.
Seaquist had a boot shop on the ground floor and judging from the house Seaquist acquired, business must have been good. The Seaquist Mansion is located two blocks to the north on Broad Street. In later years the building housed the First State Bank, which merged with the Mason National Bank in 1932. Thereafter, the building housed a succession of grocery stores until its conversion to an office building. Currently, attorney, Jack Lee has his office in this space.
26. VEDDER BLDG./ Vacant ~~ MASON SQUARE MUSEUM (130-112 Ft. McKavitt)
Great buildings don’t make great towns—great people do. The former Davenport Pharmacy buildings deserve special mention, not only because they are fine buildings, but also because of the dedication of the Davenport family to the preservation of Mason history. Grace Ray Davenport was one of the driving forces behind the Main Street Project, and her many years of research on the history of the buildings around the Square underpin the information in this tour. She kept historical photographs on display in the pharmacy, and a visit with her was always a must to appreciate fully the Square and what it means to Mason.
The western Vedder building was built by C. S. Vedder about 1902. Vedder ran a confectionery and ice cream plant and later expanded into bottling soft drinks. Vedder Drug Store, with its 20-foot pressed tin ceilings, electric ceiling fans and lights, and wood showcases, became the home of Davenport Pharmacy in 1942, when the Davenports moved from the Fort Mason Hotel. The Davenports expanded into the building to the east, formerly a tin shop, after a fire in 1976 destroyed much of the interior. Grace Ray Davenport was the pharmacist at Davenport Pharmacy from 1942 until 2004. Davenport Pharmacy finally closed its doors in 2004 when owner, Grace Ray Davenport, finally decided to retire.
The west side of the building is currently vacant. The east side is now the home of the Mason Square Museum, providing locals and visitors with a connection to the Mason's past.
27. KOTHMANN & JORDAN BLDG. / GEMS OF THE HILL COUNTRY Jewelers and Lapidaries (126 Ft. McKavitt)
The “K and J” in the title at the entry stands for Kothmann and Jordan, brothers-in-law who were dealers and manufacturers of high- grade saddles, harnesses ,whips , collars, lap robes and all other goods to be found in a first-class saddlery establishment .
Today, this historic location houses the custom jewelers and lapidaries of Gems of the Hill Country!
Owner, gemologist and expert -level gem faceter B. Diane Eames and husband, gold and silversmith Brad Hodges operate a full-service jewelry store focused on natural Mason County topaz hand-crafted jewelry and colored stone creations from artisans in the USA.
28. DAVID YOUNG LAW OFFICE & MASON SQUARE B & B (124 Ft. McKavitt)
This building has been extensively remodeled recently when the New Orleans style 2-story gallery was added. It was the last building on the Square to be renovated. Built sometime in the late 1880s, the building housed Henry McDougall’s Buckhorn Saloon from around 1900 until 1905. After McDougall’s death, his wife added the second story, running a combination rooming house, office building, and saloon.
William A. Zesch obtained the building from Mrs. McDougall, his sister, and operated a meat market and grocery store with Harold Zesch and A.W. (Bert) Zesch. They had to close during the Depression because customers could not pay their accounts. The building still contains a well and pump that once supplied water for the entire block. The well room also has a barbecue pit dating from the time of the meat market. Mason Square Bed & Breakfast on the second floor offers comfortable rooms, each with lovely antiques and a private bath.
120 – 114 FT. MCKAVITT (two buildings, four businesses)
The history of these four spaces is quite convoluted, as a variety of businesses have been located in them, even in recent history. The original builders of these two buildings are lost in the mists of time.
29. Shain Chapman Law Office (120 Ft. McKavitt)
A Cheap Cash store, a jewelry store, a dry cleaning store, and a men’s wear store are some of the former tenants in this space, which is currently occupied by an attorney’s office.
30. Ft. Mason Real state/ Arnold Gallery (118 Ft. McKavitt)
Come in and see Joyce Arnold for all of your Real Estate Needs and enjoy several displays of local Artist's work. In the late 1880s, this building was occupied by First National Bank.
31. Premier Ranch/Homestead Realty (116 Ft. McKavitt)
J. S. King and Schmidt were close friends, and remodeled their shops to look alike in 1922, including the addition of the decorative tile entryways. The site was just extensively remodeled, and is now home to the Premier Ranch (a prime hunting facility) and Homestead Realty.
32. The Cotton Patch (114 Ft. McKavitt)
The City of Mason offices were once located in The Cotton Patch’s current site. Now, rather than paying utility bills, visitors can shop for candles and cards, plus unique gifts and collectibles.
BRIDGES BLDGS. (110 – 108 FT. MCKAVITT)
These two buildings are known as the Bridges Buildings and were constructed sometime in the 1880s.
33. NIA Consulting (110 FT. MCKAVITT)
In earlier times, this site was occupied by the Racket Store. We don’t know what their racket was. Early portable radios, perhaps. The first and second floors have been extensively remodeled, and house a national company that chose Mason as its home base. It is one of only a handful of buildings around the square that actively use their second floor spaces.
34. Mason County Chamber of Commerce (108 Ft. McKavitt)
This building was once the site of the Mason County Bank, established in 1887 by F. W. Henderson, who also founded another bank in Mason. Later the building was used for more mundane purposes—dress shops, drugstores, and the like. The Chamber of Commerce now provides Mason’s citizens and visitors with travel information, maps and information on Mason and Mason County in this historic structure.
35. THE SCHMIDT BLDG./WILLOW CREEK CAFÉ (106 FT. MCKAVITT)
Note the fine Mesker Brothers cast-iron fronts and expanses of glass on this 1904 building and compare it to Underwood Antiques on the northeast corner of the Square. Only these two buildings on the Square have such lavish use of glass. The buildings once had simple wooden western-style fronts; the glass was added at the same time as the cast iron fronts. The Schmidt Building is also notable for its huge doors, which were an asset to the Ford dealer located here—a Model T could easily be driven through the entrance. Schmidt sold hardware, wagons, buggies, and hacks. Steaks, burgers, salads and homemade desserts are just some of the delicious fare available at the café that now occupies this striking building.
THE S&H BUILDINGS (102 - 100 FT. MCKAVITT)
Partners, Glen Smith & William Hoffmann, purchased the lot in 1883 from William Lockhart. Building was constructed in 1884 and stocked with mercantile supplies. The upper floors, used for many years as storage, are currently being used as an artist's studio.
36. Office Space (102 FT. MCKAVITT)
This western portion of the S&H Bldg. was added around 1888.
37. Hill Country Telecommunications (100 Ft. McKavitt)
The eastern portion of this building was erected in 1884, according to the legend on the facade and a mercantile and hide-buying business at first. An early Coca-Cola bottling plant was located here, but in 1929, William Koock bought the business and switched to Dr Pepper. Before World War I the German American National Bank operated here, expeditiously changing its name to Mason National Bank once hostilities began between the United States and Germany. Hill Country Telecommunications is currently working with their architect to finish out their local offices here, offering internet, voice over ip, and many other broadband services. Look at the Mason House on the northeast corner of the Square.
38. Mason House (100 Live Oak)
The north side of the Square begins and ends with James Ranck. Ranck saw the need for a hotel to serve the town he was trying so hard to build, so he built the Mason House Hotel. This is one of the oldest buildings on the Square, dating to perhaps 1870. Used in the past as apartments, it was owned by Sue and Keith Kaan who renovated the building and used it as their private residence before selling it to Claire Bell. The former lobby has a six-foot mantel and opens onto the front south room via a huge double door. The walls are 18” thick.
A long narrow room north of the lobby was used as the hotel dining room; stories are told of outlaws enjoying-and straining-the hospitality. Other buildings were part of this complex when it was a stage stop on the line from San Antonio—a schoolroom, a shoe shop, stables, and pens. The livery stable still remains, the small building to the east. Cross Ft. McKavitt Street to the northeast corner of the courthouse wall and stand behind the yellow curb by the flags and the Mason County Veterans Memorial. If you feel a sudden chill as you stand here, it may not be the effect of salubrious breezes wafting from Comanche Creek.
This spot was once the site of the Mason County Jail, and in 1874, during the HooDoo War, five accused rustlers were taken from the jail by a mob. Two were hanged; one was cut down before he died; another was shot; one escaped. Look at the north side of the Square to view the facades of the buildings. Then look at Underwood Antique Mall.
39. UNDERWOOD ANTIQUE MALL (101 S. LIVE OAK)
The initials of several generations of Mason citizens are carved in the soft sandstone north wall of this handsome building with its Mesker Brothers cast-iron front and vast expanses of glass similar to the Schmidt Building. This site has housed a grocery store almost from the earliest times. Perhaps this is where the term ”corner grocery” originated. When the grocery business in Mason got a little overloaded, the Underwoods changed gears and installed an antique mall with a wide variety of antiques and collectibles. They have a little something for everyone including glassware, Mason County Topaz, jewelry, furniture - you name it!
40. C&G BUILDING 1879 ~ Topaz Confections (106 Live Oak)
If a sweet little town like Mason could have had a den of iniquity, the C&G Building would have been it. Dating from 1879, the building first housed a saloon and pool hall, the twin tickets to ruination for many a young man. At least three people were killed in gunfights here. Later, in an extreme turnabout, church suppers were held here. E. Henrich and Son operated a saddle shop and sporting goods store at this location for many years. Topaz Confections, a wonderful bakery, has found a home in this space and been welcomed to the east side!
41. The Mason Gallery (108 Live Oak)
This building’s history is difficult to separate from the C&G Building, since they are on the same lot. There seems to have been a harness shop and a drug store here, among other businesses. The building probably dates from the 1870’s. Zesch Buildings c. 1927 (110-112 S. Live Oak) These two buildings have been home to grocery stores, an auto parts store, and a café. An ex-Texas Ranger once ran a pool hall here. The awnings have very ornate pressed metal ceilings.
42. Currently Vacant (110 S. Live Oak)
The Mason County News occupied this space until late 2009.
43. THE PETAL PATCH (112 S. Live Oak)
Inside, shoppers will find beautiful silk floral designs, decorating accessories and all manner of other items to accent home, office or special occasion. The south side of the business contains their Christmas store, and the inventory is available all year long. Walk to the Trail Driver Statue on the courthouse lawn. The fine stone wall surrounding the courthouse lawn was built by local contractors Henrich and Ischar in 1927-28.
44. TRAIL DRIVER STATUE
Mason County has a long history of ranching. During the 1986 Sesquicentennial, this bronze by Mason County sculptor Mitch Mikeska was dedicated to honor early Mason county ranchers and trail drivers. The names of many early ranchers and trail drivers are inscribed on the base of the statue. Walk to the southeast corner of the courthouse wall.
45. R. GROSSE & SONS (114 S. Live Oak)
Grosse and Sons rounded out 100 years of business in Mason in 1987, celebrating the event with the dedication of a Texas Historical Marker for their business. Grosse studied architecture in Germany, and it was he who designed and contracted the rebuilding of the Seaquist Mansion in 1891 (the Seaquist Mansion is located two blocks north on Broad Street). He also designed the Mason County Jail you saw earlier, as well as several fine Mason County churches and a number of homes.
The rather simple wooden building on the right, with its stuccoed front, has been the home of Grosse Lumber Company for all of its 100 plus years. The hardware section of Grosse’s is housed in a building of the same style as the two Zesch buildings, but its exact origins are unknown.
46. MASON COUNTY NEWS (122 S. LIVE OAK)
This fine sandstone residence with its rock fence dates from about 1873. If it looks romantic to you, it’s with good reason: the home was twice given as a wedding present to newlyweds. If the gift seems extravagant, remember that prices were not the same in those days as they are now; the house and lot sold for $903 in 1893. The building was bought by new owners in 2003, and now serves as the offices of the Mason County News, which has also been around since 1873.
47. SANTOS TAQUERIA & SANDSTONE CELLARS (205 SAN ANTONIO)
This building has housed a succession of service stations throughout its life, possibly starting as early as 1916. After an extensive renovation, it has begun a new life as a Mexican eatery, offering a tasty fare of quesadillas and other Mexican specialties. Next door to the south is a first for Mason County – a winery! Sandstone Winery opened in 2004 and now offers wine by the bottle or glass to residents and visitors.
This concludes our tour of the Mason’s Courthouse Square. We hope you enjoy your visit here today, and we invite you to come again to Mason County, the Gem of the Hill Country. You’ll find friendly folks, Mason topaz, great antique shopping, the best bed and breakfasts, and the most wonderful people in Texas! Stop by the Mason County Chamber of Commerce for more information and brochures about Mason and Mason County.