Alfred Giles was an Englishman born in 1853. At the age of seventeen, he apprenticed with the Giles and Bivens architectural for two years. In 1873 shortly after the completion of his apprenticeship, he immigrated to the United States. He settled in Texas in 1875 for health reasons. Giles started his own firm in 1876 and quickly became one of the most well-known architects in the state of Texas. He was commissioned in the works of over 90 buildings in Texas and Mexico, including courthouses, jails, and residences. Many of these buildings still stand.
The architectural style of the Schreiner Mansion is characterized by a combination of the Romanesque Revival and Chateauesque. Romanesque Revival first started in Germany during the mid-1830’s and featured simplified, rounded arched and plenty of windows. It was a favored architectural style for Christian churches. The Chateauesque style was based on the French Renaissance architecture of sprawling French county homes. The style is characterized by elaborate towers, spires, and steeply-pitched roofs. Masons were brought from Germany to construct the Schreiner Mansion using native stone. Construction of the mansion was done in three phases: the original house in 1879, and addition in 1895, and the addition of porches and archways in 1897.
Electricity in Kerrville
The exact date of the arrival of electricity in the homes of Kerrville is not known; however; the Schreiner Mansion was likely the first home with electricity when it became available. In general, electricity was first used in street lamps, hotels, and is some businesses. In London, in 1882 electricity became more widely used in homes, especially newer homes. Prior to electricity in homes, the Schreiner family relied on candles and kerosene. Laster, gas was pumped in the basement.