Hi! I'm Liz. I'm a bit of a Heinz 57: raised in England, Capetown and the Virgin Islands. Traveling is part of my DNA. I'm a mosaic artist and make my home in Alpine, West Texas and Austin. My motto is "leave it better than you found it" and "communication is the key to happiness." I have 2 vacation rental properties next door to each other in downtown Alpine: "The Alpine Studio" and "The Historic Bottle House." "Galeria Sibley," one block away, will become another BnB vacation rental soon.
HISTORY OF ALPINE AND THE BnB'S:
Alpine used to be named Murphyville, and Murphy street was Main Street before the advent of the railroad. This artsy street is undergoing revitalization in downtown Alpine with murals, restaurants, galleries, stores, guest homes and a farmer's market.
THE ALPINE STUDIO:
The Alpine Studio, 106 West Murphy St, Alpine was built in 1907 by pioneer photographer John Thain as his studio. In 1928, it was remodeled in Mission Style: the exterior “...will be finished in a Spanish Style with oriental stucco, windows and doors to be arched and trimmed in blue....high class portraits ...” *
Interview w/ Carl Thain (John Thain nephew) SRSU Archives OHT364wh1976 p. 12- 15
“...he was quite the photographer...he went to (Kansas) McMillan Institute of Photography..stayed there for several years and came back and he decided he’d just go taking pictures...he took his wagon and his horses and took off. He traveled west to El Paso and up into New Mexico and finally...came to Alpine....he bought that property when this was Murphyville (Alpine was Murphyville from 1883-1888)...he married a girl, her name was Burgess..(they) lived in Ojinaga....her father was an English miner and her mother was...Spanish, from Spain....quite a family...there was quite a lot of gold on that (Burgess) ranch and mercury too...course it’s 30 miles in there..and it belongs to the federal gov. today...but they ranched it you know and did some mining..they got along with the Mexican governor all right...then there was this attorney by the name of Fuller...and he came here. He had tuberculosis and he had a ticket as far as Alpine. And they took him off the train and he was awful sick...Uncle John Thain was over there-everybody met the train in those days-and they picked him up and took him over to the studio and took care of him for a year or two... and he and Uncle John went down to Mexico and they finally ran off all these other people and the Burgess family got their land back... and Mr Fuller set up as an attorney in Marfa in the early days. Then Mr. Thain operated his photography Studio from then on...and he didn’t travel much...married and settled...they had no children...they settled down here at the Studio...when he died, I inherited the Studio and the next door property and I sold it to Tom Valadez...he left some property to Luis Rodriguez’s daughter, some of Aunt Lizzie’s kinfolks...they inherited a lot of houses and things that Mr. Thain helped ‘em build and loaned ‘em money to build it, you know. And in his Will, he said that I was to forgive ‘em their debts and it all went to them..most of the estate was inherited by her...nieces..."
What happened to all of his old negatives and pictures and such?
“...I cleaned it all out...didn’t think it was worth anything..there’s some of those ol’ tin plates and he (Thain) had made some pictures of Judge Roy Bean down there when they had that big world heavyweight championship boxing match ...and the Rangers made them take it across the river (into Mexico)...and the rest of it, i just dumped in that ol’ well and covered it up...I guess I should have kept it all...
*Mr. George H. Walker of Marfa took charge of the Alpine Studio March 2, 1925 (having purchased it from Mrs. Thain)
*The Thains resumed management of the Studio March 1st, 1926...Mrs Thain ”...has been studying under some of the best artists in the West the last few months and modern equipment has been added assuring the very finest portrait work for Alpine ...”
*Mar 15, 1929 Mrs Lizzie Thain: George Walker from Ft Stockton will take over commercial work (kodak, post card and framing) of Studio. Mrs Thain will continue to do the portrait work...
*June 3, 1938Mrs Lizzie Thain Riggs took over management of The Alpine Studio, returning from Chihuahua Mexico where she has lived for the past 4 years. JC Thain, owner of the Studio is leaving for an indefinate stay to Hot Springs, New Mexico.
The Alpine Studio was purchased by Liz and Hiram Sibley in 2012 and is now operated as a Bed and Breakfast (without the breakfast:).
*The Alpine Avalanche, courtesy of the Sul Ross Archives.
THE BOTTLE HOUSE:
The Bottling Works was founded in the early 1920‘s by Basil Matthew’s father and uncle, Walter Matthews. It was the original Alpine bottling plant, “...next door to Thain’s Studio, a little garden and then the bottlin’ plant alongside it....the plant was about 60 feet wide and maybe about 100 feet long. It had a porch with a loadin’ dock out on the north side...facin’ the depot, the railroad tracks...there was no sign...people just knew. There was no street signs in Alpine and everybody knew everybody..”*
This original plant, The Bottling Works, was the hand bottling kind that used to be called a foot stomper. “...it’s the machine that has no electricity, no power. The power is all in your feet and in your hands...the bottles had to be taken off the bottle (washing) machine, put on crates and carried over to the bottlin’ machine. We’d have a stack of clean bottles here and then (we’d) bottle them. It was just a one man operation....well, actually...one man runnin’ the washing machine and one doin’ the bottles.. our trucks couldn’t carry but about 50 cases in them, those ol’ Model T trucks..just me, my dad and my brother...of course, one of us would be there all the time...but we didn’t run the bottlin’ process every day...about 2 days a week, you’d bottle up enough for that week .....Basil Matthews p.22 -24
“..we ordered extract from these extract companies..and we’ld mix it with sugar and water..one of our biggest expenses was the sugar..the extracts were strawberry, lemon, lime, vanilla and Delaware Punch...and at times we’ld run Orange Crush...but it didn’t take much carbonation and we had trouble with the yeast forming in it....by not having the carbonation, it tended to get bad and formed this yeast ....it made sort of a wave, it looked like a piece of paper floating in there...”
“(In 1929)..my mother drank some Dr. Pepper up there in Waco and she just insisted on it...we just hounded the Dr. Pepper company to start it here..they finally sent a man out here...and he told me, ‘Well, now you’ve got to put Dr. Pepper signs on your trucks and you gotta git a new bottlin’ machine.’ We was using a foot stomper. Used to be, you did a bottle of beer with it (laughing)...The Coca Cola plant was in Marfa...Coca Cola was the leadin’ drink then and eventually Pepsi-Cola caught up with it...we made the first Dr. Pepper ever in West Texas here!...the first wood barrel of (Dr. Pepper) syrup came to Alpine...we mixed our own syrup on everythin’ else..
At that time, we didn’t have a refrigerated water system. So I took a barrel and put a copper coil in it and put a 50 lb block of ice in there to cool the water that was goin’ to the machine. Because the gas will not mix unless you’ve got cold water.... .It was a one man job..we’d set a case of empty bottles down there and just pick one bottle at a time. ...
*Oral History, Basil Matthews 04 M438cu 1988, p.7-24, SRSU Archives