The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

December 4, 2012

12th Street Antiques opens on Square

HUNTSVILLE — Carnival glass, clocks and coins are just a few of the wares available on the Huntsville square at the new 12th Street Antiques.

Kathryn McKenzie, owner, is not new to the Huntsville business owner title. She has owned a few shops just off the square. But returning to the trade felt like coming home, she said.

McKenzie runs the shop with her daughters and prides herself of carrying a wide selection of antiques in a shop that’s just as interesting as what it contains.

During renovations at the shop, located at 1111 12th St., owner George Russell made several interesting discoveries.

For example, crews replacing the flooring found an old cistern in the center of the shop while crews. Cisterns like these were used to catch rain water and were different from wells in that they were waterproof, above-ground containers.

Instead of covering the hole, Russell built a wooden enclosure with a plexiglass cover and iron bars so people could view the interior of the water catchment basin. Crews also unearthed an antique glass bottle when they were emptying the cistern and it, along with a fake skeleton, are on display at the bottom of the lighted cistern.

“We had no idea there was a cistern under there. Research indicated there was a saloon there from 1885 to 1910,” Russell said. “We were forced to remove the floor, and we found the cistern had been filled in with clay. It took us two weeks to dig it out.”

Russell was hoping there would be discoveries of items people may have thrown into the cistern as trash but the crew found only a few bottles — and a frog.

“The really weird thing is when we got it completely opened up, there was a little bit of water in the bottom of it,” Russell said. “At the bottom, there was a big leopard frog. We said it must have been in there over 100 years. We don’t know where he came from.”

Whether the frog lived at the bottom of the cistern for a century or jumped in there just before he was found, Russell did the humane thing and relocated the him.

“I brought him to my fountain at the corner of Avenue N and 19th Street,” he said. “He got so excited, he jumped into the water.”

In addition to the cistern, Russell restored or replaced with replicas the bathrooms, ceiling and wainscoting to give the feel of an 1800s saloon.

“We tried to recreate an ambiance using historic material,” Russell said. “Another thing we discovered was that the building had a skylight originally. We had a new skylight custom made and we added natural light in the building. We used as much of the historic fabric of Huntsville as possible.”

McKenzie said she couldn’t be happier with the renovations or the discovery of the cistern. That history, along with the history of the items she sells, is the reason she’s in the antiques business.

“I love learning about the way they did things back then,” she said. “We could all learn a lot from the old ways.”

For more information, visit 12th Street Antiques at 1111 12th St. or call (936) 439-5212. The shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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