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Comanche Trace

The Charm and Intrigue of Old Ingram Loop

Posted by admin on October 1, 2014 at 3:14 AM

Old Ingram Loop is delightfully unique; a step back in time combined with a touch of today. Originally settled as Ingram in 1879 along the banks of the Guadalupe River, the area thrived as a bustling center of commerce centered around a well-traveled stagecoach stop and a stop on the Great Western Trail. Its history is steeped with tales of cattle drives and cowboys, hanging trees and saloons, and floods and new beginnings.

Ingram Loop

Until the late 1960s, the confluence of road junctions 27 and 39 joined where present-day Clint Orms Silversmith and Jewelers now sits. The roads were then rerouted a third of a mile away to where present-day T.J. Moore Lumber Company now stands. It was then that this one-third-mile stretch of land on Highway 39 became known as Old Ingram and eventually Old Ingram Loop.

Old Ingram had an intriguing past, and fortunately there are people around to tell its tales and debunk the myths. Judy Wunsch is one of them. Born in one of the stone houses right on the loop, she loves to reminisce with tales handed down by her family. Her grandfather, J.J. Maxwell, ran the local drug store and was pharmacist back in 1918. Today Judy and her husband Harold run the Riverside RV Park at the west end of the loop, are landlords for many current-day merchants, and champion the preservation of the loop’s historical charm.

The Old Ingram Loop of today, just fifteen minutes west of Kerrville, is now home to two dozen shops and galleries run by possibly some of the friendliest merchants around. You won’t find big box stores here but you will find highquality wares, handcrafted treasures and first-class artwork. There is no official website, although there is an Old Ingram Loop Facebook page and most merchants have their own websites. For this reason, we’ll gladly offer up a glimpse of what to expect when you visit.

We’ll begin with the renowned artists and craftsmen, each specialists in their own genre, who have based their studios here for many years. At Winters Gallery, explore the expressive watercolor and acrylic paintings of Todd Abbott Winters; his vibrant sunflowers, Hill Country landscapes and dramaticgiclee prints are awash with vibrant color and bold designs.

Expect to be awed by thebronzes and oils at Tom Moss Studio. The works of this legendary artist brilliantly capture the era of the old west; many can be found in collections throughout the world. Next door, shop forheirloom quality silver buckle sets and accessories at Clint Orms Jewelers and Silversmiths.

All pieces are made on site and of exquisite craftsmanship. Clint’s clients have included presidents, country stars, rodeo performers and other famous notables.

To say Kathleen Cook is an accomplished artist is an understatement. Her lifelike pastels feature beautiful effects of light, and her sensitive portrayal of the human face has led to national recognition. Kathleen Cook Studio also offers periodic classes and workshops.

At Copper Cactus, find stunning metal and wood creations by nationally known artist Darrin Potter. His simplistic designs of handcrafted furniture, art and jewelry “invoke the spirit of the old west”. Save time to roam the grounds for funky yard and garden art.

The abstract “stained glass” oils of Carrie Rominger are carefully embellished with gold and silver leaf. Her shop, Blue Moon Antiques, also stocks a line of custom-made beads, antiques and accessories.

The loop is definitely a shopper’s mecca. Roam through Perfect Surroundings, Rosella Market, Bearstone and Junk in the Trunk for trendy gifts, decorative house accents, and whimsical oddities. If you’re into bold color, Horsefeathers will suit your fancy with its colorful array of Latin American arts, home goods and clothing, including a line of Mara de Guadalajara designer apparel. Venture next door to Lady Fingers for homey handcrafted quilts and companion pieces, plus a complete line of supplies. Shopkeeper Martha York also offers classes.

Cynthia Anderson’s shop, Southwestern Elegance,has been a main stay of Old Ingram Loop for thirty-one years. Housed in what was originally known as Dr. Fowler’s office, it has now been revamped to include two well-restored buildings and a recently-added warehouse filled with select antiques, architectural elements for the home, a casual clothing boutique and specialty gifts.

Decorating Specialists is housed in what once was the Ridenour Cafe, and today it could easily pass for a Home Beautiful showroom. Shopkeepers Debby and Rene Marin’s creations include oh-so-pretty custom boxes, clocks, framed needlework and lush bed linens, with a heavy emphasis on crisp white and dreamy creams.

Neenah Stone Designs is acompact shop stocked with needlecraft supplies and hand painted needlepoint canvases. Her technique of transferring a beloved pet’s image onto needlepoint is extraordinary. Lessons are available.

Lisa Reyna is a second-generation merchant at the loop and has fond memories of hours spent at her dad’s gunsmith business. Her shop, Cornerstone, has been many things throughout the years, including a bar, grocery store and gas station.Today it is packed with an eclectic assortment of home and boutique items, mostly made in Texas.

Diners have two choices on the loop; newly opened this year is a Fork and Knife, a rustic-casual eatery open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Veteran restauranteur Brian Keeth offers up a menu of perennial favorites with an epicurean twist and enjoys a loyal following. Tip: feast on Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes.

For more casual fare, stop at Tonya’s Barbecue, in front of Copper Cactus, for lip-smacking good brisket and sandwiches. Picnic tables set under lofty trees offer a great place for light refreshment.

Behind Perfect Surroundings is Wishing Well B&B, featuring two charming, oversized units beautifully furnished in country-luxurious style. They beckon you to come stay for awhile.

There is one obviously empty store on the Loop. The forlorn red shop once known as Miss Kitty’s has sadly fallen into disrepair. It is now mostly an inspiration for the work of many artists and photographers who strive to capture its essence as an iconic reminder of Texas’ glorious past.

Not all stores are open every day; many are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and weekends are the busiest times. Special events and sales are held throughout the year, adding even more reasons to become a frequent Old Ingram Loop shopper.

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