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Unraveling the Mysteries: Who Designed and Built the Mercantile on the Katy Trail?

McKittrick Mercantile Building

Introduction:


Nestled along the scenic Katy Trail, the McKittrick Mercantile stands as a testament to a bygone era, shrouded in mystery and intrigue. As we delve into the historical archives to unravel the origins of this architectural gem, we are confronted with a labyrinth of possibilities, each leading us down a different path.


Was it the St. Louis McKittrick family, who were also MKT railroad financiers and regional settlement owners, the government, the first McKittrick merchants, or a collaborative effort that birthed this iconic structure? While we may never have a definitive answer, the architectural fingerprints also point to a notable figure – William "the brickbuilder" Eames.


The McKittrick Family and the MKT Railroad:


One hypothesis places the St. Louis McKittrick family, comprising John and Thomas McKittrick, at the center of the narrative. It suggests that the family acquired Montgomery County settlement lands along the MKT railway with the intention of resale and played a pivotal role in the creation of McKittrick. The MKT railroad, as a major player, may have provided both the impetus and the means for the development.


Government Involvement:


Another angle considers the possibility of government involvement in the establishment of McKittrick. Did the government, perhaps spurred by the prospect of economic development along the MKT railway, play a role in the town's inception? Were there incentives or directives that shaped the landscape of McKittrick? The post office?


First McKittrick Merchants:


Local lore often suggests that the early merchants of McKittrick might have been the driving force behind the town's growth. Were these entrepreneurs the true architects of the mercantile, shaping the town according to their vision and needs? Their influence could have been profound in shaping McKittrick's destiny.


Architectural Clues: William "the brickbuilder" Eames:


While the historical record may remain elusive, the architectural style of the 1897 McKittrick Mercantile provides a compelling clue. If designed by William Eames, a prominent architect from the St. Louis firm Eames and Young, the mercantile reflects a departure from the "passe" architecture of its time. Eames, known for his innovative use of red brick, bay windows, and cast iron beams, left an indelible mark on the design landscape. The ties to the McKittrick family's own mercantile businesses and blend of Victorian and Italianate styles in the McKittrick Mercantile aligns seamlessly with the turn of the century aesthetics, suggesting Eames or his firm as a likely candidate behind its creation.


Conclusion:


As we navigate the twists and turns of history, the story of McKittrick's origins remains a captivating enigma. Whether it was the McKittrick family, the MKT railroad, government influence, the first merchants, or a collaborative effort that birthed this charming town, the architectural legacy left by William Eames offers a tantalizing glimpse into the past. The McKittrick Mercantile, with its metal roof, red brick facade, cast iron beams, and bay windows, stands as a silent witness to a bygone era, inviting us to ponder the intricate tapestry of influences that shaped its existence. Though the full picture may forever elude us, the pursuit of understanding remains a fascinating journey through time.


Do you have any family ties or historical information about the historic McKittrick Mercantile building? We'd love to hear from you!



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