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Help Me to Identify Texas 1800’s Glass Negatives

2011 June 26
by Jan Wilkinson


Glass plate negative owned by

Looking South down Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas

Go to my blog post for more about the above photo: I have three boxes of glass negatives found in an old home being torn down near Kerrville in the late 1960’s. Finally found a scanner that could handle the 3-1/2″ X 3-1/2″ size and made a frame to hold them and revealed a unbelievable treasure!! Between each negative is scrap paper printed in German from a magazine or newspaper, most of the photos were taken in the Hill Country of Texas, one of the Alamo, a view out of the dome of the Capitol of downtown Austin, Texas looking down Congress Avenue toward the Colorado River, and some unidentified homes and people and stores. It has been a challenge to find out who and where these pictures were taken. I don’t know the photographer, but thought someone might know. Would love to see if anyone else can help me.

Please go to my second post about glass negatives at the link:

Glass plate negative owned by

On left side is the Hugo and Schmeltzer Building that was purchased by Clara Driscoll so she could “Save the Alamo”, along with Adina de Zavala.

Glass plate negative owned by

Federal Courthouse and Post Office at Alamo Plaza in San Antonio, built from 1886-1889 designed by architect James Riely Gordon (1863-1937) who worked in San Antonio from 1884 to 1900. This building was razed. Gordon is remembered for his courthouses, he designed eighteen for Texas.


Auditorium Building at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897 in Nashville; click photo to read my post. Thanks to Mark D. Cowan of Texas Historical Commission for this identification.

Glass plate negative owned by

Old Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville; click the photo to see my post.


Dr. S. T. Lowry residence on southwest corner of Avenue C (now Broadway) and Travis Streets here in San Antonio. It was designed by the famous courthouse architect J. Reily Gordon. It was demolished many years ago and replaced by a music company. “This is definitely the best photo that I’ve seen of it”, Tom Shelton, Curator, ITC Library.


Notice the name Nic Tengg on the safe in the top right corner. Not sure if this is his store downtown San Antonio, Texas.




What a wonderful shop and soda fountain. Love the patrons clothes and the marble counter. Maybe San Antonio, Texas.

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17 Responses Post a comment
  1. December 4, 2018

    James, I’m glad you follow Traces of Texas and came to visit my blog. The Texas Historical Commission has copies of all these photos. I donated them and they helped with the identification of locations. It is a true journey finding the information about the simple glass-negatives found abandoned in a building. I have many stories to read; come back again. Jan

  2. James Bernsen permalink
    December 3, 2018

    I don’t know if you’re aware, but the first picture captures a very important historic building. The big three story building across 12th street (first on the right) from the Capitol is the former Texas Business College building, which was taken over as the temporary capitol of Texas between 1881 when the old capitol burned and 1888 when the new one was completed. I’ve NEVER seen a photo of this building, only sketches. This is a very rare picture and you should get it out there, possibly offer the negative to the State Preservation Board.

  3. December 4, 2012

    Sometime I’ll scan the pages; they are out of a newspaper or publication of some type. Thanks for your offer. Jan

  4. Tom Sieger permalink
    December 4, 2012

    If you email me the german notes I can translate them for you.

  5. Nbissonnet permalink
    December 3, 2012


    This website may be helpful in your search for identifying 1800’s TX photos:

  6. May 9, 2012

    See your email for my reply. Thanks, Jan

  7. May 8, 2012

    Is there anyway to get a high resolution version of the photo from the capitol window? It is awesome! Thanks, Alex

  8. February 10, 2012

    Thanks for your feedback on the photo and for reading my blog. If you don’t mind me asking; how did you find my page?

  9. SArah Reveley permalink
    February 10, 2012

    I think the soda fountain is in Comfort. I remember walking into a shop there recently, an old soda fountain, and getting sodas but no dispenser like that. There was a space to the left for seating. As soon as I saw the photo I felt like it was the same.

    These are FABULOUS. Thanks for publishing them.

  10. Annie permalink
    June 30, 2011

    Oh ok. I thought maybe they were handwritten with what was on each negative. Probably just random paper separating the slides then?

  11. June 30, 2011

    Thanks Annie, they look like from a published paper or magazine. Cut the size of the negatives which are actually 3-1/2″ X 3-1/2″ in size. I’ll get them scanned sometime soon.

  12. Annie permalink
    June 29, 2011

    I know some German, what do the scraps say? Let’s translate them so we can ID the buildings that are still unknown 🙂

  13. June 28, 2011

    Joe, Thank you for your help and sleuthing! It certainly is the same house. I thought Comfort was a direction to look but it took your hard work to find it. Thank you.


  14. June 27, 2011

    Joe, I am unable to identify any from Kerrville. I believe either, Austin or San Antonio. Thanks for reading my blog!

  15. June 27, 2011

    Any of the images from Kerrville?

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  1. Then and Now – Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas c1896 and 2007 | Out My Kitchen Window

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