Antiques store is repository of memories

Johnny Herrmann’s business card boasts that his antiques business, in San Antonio, is “not your grandma’s antiques store.”

But, there’s no doubt that the shop where his business operates is steeped in his family’s history.

The store is in the 1946 Herrmann Building, at 11853 S. Curley St.

Johnny Herrmann enjoys being surrounded by items he’s purchased at estate sales, other antiques stores and from individual sellers. He has a particular weakness for paintings. He just loves having them around. (B.C. Manion/Staff Photo)

Johnny Herrmann enjoys being surrounded by items he’s purchased at estate sales, other antiques stores and from individual sellers. He has a particular weakness for paintings. He just loves having them around.
(B.C. Manion/Staff Photo)

The building is one of a collection of structures on Curley Street, south of State Road 52, constructed by the Herrmann family, beginning in the 1920s.

“People used to refer to this part of town as Herrmann-ville, because there were so many buildings that my grandfather and father built,” said Johnny, whose grandfather moved to the area in the 1920s, according to published reports.

The collection of businesses is now called the South San Antonio Arts and Antiques District, or s.o.s.a for short. The businesses, as well as San Antonio Pottery, are part of that district.

Step inside San Antonio Antiques, and you’ll find a place chock full of unusual items — purchased from estate sales, other antique shops and individual sellers.

A few years ago, the place was vacant, and it had been that way since the mid-1970s, Johnny said.

Now, it houses the antiques shop, Tangerine Hill and Red Dog Designs & Home, and A Healthy Convenience. Upstairs, there’s a yoga studio and a place for martial arts classes.

Beyond its current role, the building is a physical reminder of a family that has played a considerable role in San Antonio.

Johnny lives in the house that belonged to his grandfather, Lucius, who was a baker by trade.

His business is in the space that was once occupied by his father’s business.

Indeed, the gleaming terrazzo floor near the front door is emblazoned with the logo for Saf-T-Gas, the business that Joe Herrmann ran from the building.

Joe Herrmann arrived in San Antonio when his father, Lucius, moved there and set up a bakery.

Lucius Herrmann left the area, but Joe and his wife, Rose Ullrich Herrmann, stayed, raising nine children there.

Joe and Rose were deeply involved in community life.

These are the buildings that were built by Johnny Herrmann’s grandfather, Lucius and his father, Joe. At one point, the area was known as “Herrmannville.” (Courtesy of Johnny Herrmann)

These are the buildings that were built by Johnny Herrmann’s grandfather, Lucius and his father, Joe. At one point, the area was known as “Herrmannville.”
(Courtesy of Johnny Herrmann)

Joe played a role in so many different ventures and organizations there, he was called “Mr. San Antonio,” according to news accounts.

He was entrepreneurial from a young age.

He delivered newspapers and fresh bread. He set up a radio store. He caddied at a golf course, too.

News accounts and historic documents detail Joe’s involvement in politics, banking, business and civic life.

He was appointed by the governor to fill a seat on the Pasco County Commission, upon the death of Arthur Schrader. He served as San Antonio’s mayor.

He helped establish the Traveler’s Rest community and was one of the founding fathers of the San Antonio Credit Union, the Pioneer Florida Museum and Village, and the Pasco County Fair Association.

He also championed the San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival and the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce.

Before he died, Joe made it known he would like to see the former Saf-T-Gas building revived, Johnny said.

Now, it’s a showcase of the items Johnny has accumulated through years in the antiques business.

In the past, Johnny and a partner had stores in Seminole Heights and Ybor City, and then Johnny traveled thousands of miles each year, going to shows in cities from New York to Miami.

He still has a passion for collecting and selling. He enjoys the thrill of finding an unusual item, or a great bargain, and he continually seeks to broaden his knowledge.

He enjoys being surrounded by interesting objects and paintings in his shop.

And, it’s nice, he said, to be able to walk to work from the house that his grandfather built to work in the building that his father constructed and to do business in a community that he calls home.

Published November 11, 2015

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