Our History

Our History

THE JEFF DAVIS COUNTY LIBRARY – W. Keesey-Union Mercantile Building

 

Our library is located in the historic 1906 general store which began in the early 1870s as a small adobe building and grew into the spacious Union Mercantile we have today. 


The Union was built in the unique “Alamo style” of architecture using huge adobe blocks faced with stone. 


The 6,000 square foot, L-shaped store was in a compound surrounded by several outbuildings that served as a corral, lumber yard, and storage. In 1908, Keesey sold it to a group of local financial backers, commonly referred to as ‘the Union,’ and the building therefore became the Union Mercantile Building.  


The iron bars visible on all of the windows and doors were added after an early burglary took place. Much of the original interior has been maintained. Historical elements include the painted tin roof ceiling, an impressive meat display case, and a hand-operated freight elevator.


In 1950, the building was sold to Tyrone Kelly, and it became a hardware/lumber business until 1983 when it was leased to Bob Dillard as True Value until 1989. Kelly’s estate sold the building to artist Donald Judd in 1990. 


The county purchased the building in 1994 from the Judd estate and after five years of restoration, opened as a library in November 1999. Twenty years later, it underwent extensive repairs and renovation during 2019 to 2020 to bring it to its current cheerful and warm condition.


The library the social center of the town of Fort Davis and the focal point of our Memorial Square.  It is the only library in Texas which has been awarded a landmark medallion, a state historical subject marker, and a Literary Landmark designation.