At the dawn of the age of the automobile, San Antonio was a hub for sales, service

My grandfather and great-uncle, Pablo Cortez and Taylor Cortez, worked for Winerich Auto Sales in San Antonio in the 1920s and 1930s. They both painted cars. I guess you might find more information about this business, which was located at the corner of Broadway and Third streets, across from the current Herweck’s Art Supply store. The art store told me that their building originally housed an automobile sales company as well. Attached are two files: one of a list of employees and their “duty to landowners” and a photo of my grandfather and great-uncle.

San Antonio was an early adopter of automotive technology and has become a regional hub for auto dealerships and repair shops. According to a timeline posted on the Texas Transportation Museum website, the city’s first battery-powered “horseless carriage” was delivered in 1899 to a livery service on Commerce Street, followed two years later by the first vehicle in San Antonio with a gasoline engine, a Haynes Apperson.

(To view the timeline, go to and click on the “Transportation History” tab, then “SA Transportation Timeline” and finally “San Antonio Automotive History” under “Related Links” on the right rail. )

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Typically, the latest machines arrived in crates, assembly required. The idea of ​​buying a car from the showroom floor or lot came later. Early manufacturer agencies allowed customers to order any model they wanted, and independent shops provided spare parts and repair services.

The two buildings you mention – the current Herweck’s at 300 Broadway and the former Winerich Motor Sales across the street at 301 Broadway (with some address changes due to expansions and renumbering) – were anchors of San Antonio’s first automotive district.

Your relatives worked in a company formerly known as Woodward Carriage Co., established on November 29, 1905 by DJ Woodward and Frank Winerich. Located on St. Mary’s Street, the company has hedged its bets on new technology by selling both pushchairs and automobiles, as well as harnesses “made from the finest leathers” and a “beautiful line of bathrobes”, as advertised in the San Antonio Light, December 28, 1905.

With Winerich as president, the company moved into Rambler sales. It changed its name in 1918 to Winerich Motor Sales Co., specializing in new and used cars. The old stock of horse-drawn carriages was sold at a discount while a new Winerich Building was built at C Avenue (later Broadway) and Third Street, purpose-built with space for carriages new and used as well as a repair shop.

Western Auto, shown here at the 1950 Fiesta, occupied the ground floor of 300 Broadway (now Herweck’s Art Supply) for 30 years. Winerich Motor Sales, formerly Woodward Carriage Co., moved into the building at 301 Broadway in 1915 as one of the city’s first and oldest car dealerships.

Courtesy of UTSA Special Collections

As announced in the Light of March 7, 1915, the area where your loved ones Pablo and Taylor Cortez worked received special mention: “Our painting and cutting departments are under the care of thorough experts.” City directories list the two brothers as painters in the mid to late 1920s, which would fit with their signing of a pledge (or “obligation”) to Overland automobile owners. Overland was one of the first brands sold by Winerich, and it was a stand-alone business for just five years, said Hugh Hemphill, author of “San Antonio on Wheels: The Alamo City Learns to Drive.” Acquired by Willys in 1908, “The Overland was the premium brand but was phased out in 1926.”

Beginning in 1922, Winerich sold Studebakers and became one of the Indiana automaker’s leading Texas dealerships in the 1950s. The founder, who died October 15, 1940, was succeeded as president by his son, William H. Winerich. In 1956 the company moved to a new, larger building at 1822 Broadway, a location described in advertisements as “the heart of Automobile Row”.

There, Winerich sold the first Edsel to San Antonio in an unusual deal with Ford Motor Co., which introduced its highly publicized midsize model through its own network of 1,200 dealerships nationwide. A volume dealer for the time, Winerich had the space at its new premises to take delivery and keep the ill-fated Edsels – manufactured for only two years – shrouded in secrecy until September 4, 1957, when they were rolled out nationwide.

The city’s first Edsel buyer was insurance broker Pete Heilbron, who took delivery of a four-door Edsel Pacer, sold ‘shortly after the new cars were shown’, as reported by a clipping undated and unidentified journal from Hemphill’s collection. The following summer, Winerich announced a “very unusual sale” of unclaimed Edsels at the dealer’s invoice price, “the exact amount we paid Ford Motor Co.”

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Did Weinrich’s bet on the Edsel – plagued by mechanical failures and an unpopular design – bring down a family business that had lasted mostly San Antonio had cars? Perhaps the rejected brand played a part, because by early 1959 Turbiville Lincoln Salon had replaced Winerich in its spacious, modern showroom.

The building at 300 Broadway, across from Winerich’s original location, also underwent some changes. It housed a Buick agency and a Packard distributor before becoming the No. 1 Western Auto Parts Store (of three in downtown San Antonio) in 1929. The retailer was still there to remodel the building nearly a decade later. later, expanding display space for “many new lines of merchandise” and adding a drive-through entrance, the San Antonio Express reported June 5, 1938. Along with other tenants on the second floor of the he building, Western Auto lasted until the 1950s and gave way to Herweck’s in the early 1960s after many other auto companies had moved beyond the downtown area.

City directories show Pablo Cortez also moved on, becoming a machine operator in the 1930s and working at Lackland AFB in 1951, while Taylor Cortez was listed as a painter or foreman for Weinrich for much longer.

As featured in the San Antonio Light of March 7, 1915, the newly opened Woodward Carriage Co. in the

As featured in the San Antonio Light of March 7, 1915, the newly opened Woodward Carriage Co. in the “New Winerich Building” at Avenue C (later Broadway) and Third Street sold new cars, including the Overland . Winerich Motor Sales sold the first Edsel in San Antonio from their 1822 Broadway location, pictured here promoting September 4, 1957, when the new model went on sale.

Courtesy of Hugh Hemphill

A photograph of “many veteran employees of (Winerich’s) important staff”, published in The Light, May 27, 1928, includes Taylor Cortez but not Pablo (sometimes known as Paul) among the 51 employees recognized when the staff received a Studebaker Certificate of Merit. Under the direction of Taylor Cortez, the story goes, “the paint shop is one of the most efficient operated by an automotive company.” Taylor was “an authority on ultra-cellulose (lacquer) finishes” and “never (let) a car leave the shop without a durable, mirror-like finish.”

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