Downtown San Marcos was not always the collection of bars and restaurants that it is now. For many decades, The Square was the city’s center of commerce, and the San Marcos Main Street Program is on a mission to commemorate that history.
Led by program manager Samantha Armbruster and partnered with the Hays County Historical Commission, the Heritage Association of San Marcos and the San Marcos Public Library, local residents were invited to the historical downtown courthouse Wednesday to share photographs and memorabilia. The personal collections were then scanned and archived before being returned to their owners.
“San Marcos is changing so quickly,” Armbruster said. “We wanted to capture its history before it’s too late.”
Terry Serur, whose family owned and operated several different business locations over three and a half generations, was one of the residents who participated in the photo roundup. Growing up in San Marcos in the 1950s and 60s, Serur remembers when drugstores, lunch counters and clothing shops owned by local residents surrounded the historic courthouse.
“My family opened up for business in San Marcos in 1892 and (stayed open) continuously until 2001,” Serur said. “It was my grandfather, then my older uncles, then my dad and then me. I was the last one.”
Sitting with several volunteers, Serur relayed story after story about his family and their history in San Marcos, which dates back to the turn of the 20th century. His tales brought back memories of long-forgotten storefronts, Austin Street before it was renamed after Lyndon Baines Johnson and the creation of Gil’s Broiler’s now-popular Manske rolls.
“These are just things between myself and my dad that we saved and collected over all those years, and I’ve still got them,” he said. “I wish I had more.”
Another local contributor to the photo roundup was Patty Sullivan, long-time San Marcos resident, former vice president of First Federal Savings and Loan and former board member at Balcones Bank.
Sullivan’s husband, Jake, was appointed postmaster of San Marcos by Lyndon Baines Johnson in the 1960s. Both Sullivans have been active community members for many years. Patty brought many newspaper clippings, chronicling advertisements by First Federal Savings and articles about its opening, including a banner that was stolen after one day.
Bill Pennington of the Pennington Funeral Home on Comanche Street and Professor Ann DuPont of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State loaned pieces of personal history and photograph collections to the Main Street Program for archival purposes during the roundup.
The scanned images will become part of a walking tour put on by the Main Street Program as part of the 22nd annual Swing on the Square festival May 16-18, and will hopefully evolve into a permanent display within each business, Armbruster said.