1909 Charles Stetter Residence

Here is an interestingly designed Craftsman Bungalow, located at 1014 Upson Drive in the Sunset Heights Historic District. Erected in 1909 to early 1910, it was designed by iconic El Paso architect Edward Kneezell at a cost of $5,700. It was built for a pioneer El Paso businessman named Charles H. Stetter, who was one of the city's foremost Butchers. Kneezell, a long established local architect, had already practiced architecture in El Paso for over a quarter century at the time this home was built, and continued a number of years afterwards. He is most known for designing El Paso's first skyscraper, the 1907 El Paso & Southwestern Railroad Building, which still stands downtown as the BBVA Compass building.

The building is pretty well decorated for a Craftsman, almost playfully, with support bracketing lining the wrap-around porch, giving the illusion of archways. The home is deteriorating markedly in its old age, but still retains a lot of its Kneezell-ness - what a creative mind this architect bore.  

Stetter, born in 1868 in Germany, came to El Paso and established the Stetter & Schneider Meat Company, which was located at 212 Mills, just west of where the Martin Building stands today downtown. In early 1910, Stetter, experiencing emotional issues, dissolved the firm and began to do business alone with his wife.

Here's where it gets creepy. Shortly after occupying his new home on Upson, he became very ill and had to leave the daily operations of his business to his wife. By December 1912, less than two years after moving into the home, he went completely insane and died suddenly in an Austin, Texas Sanitarium on Christmas Day.

The home was then purchased by Fred W. "Rube" Reiser in early 1913, an employee of the firm of Finnigan & Brown. Finnigan & Brown was a firm that dealt with animal hides and wool. About 18 months after moving into the home, Reiser suddenly and unexpectedly went (quoting the newspapers of the day) "violently insane" while in the lobby of a local Bank, and was thrown in jail - then shipped to a Sanitarium in San Antonio, Texas. By the end of the year, he also passed away.

Was there a material used in the construction of the home that made these two pillars of El Paso suddenly lose their sanity and die? We may never know, but it is creepy. We found no record that this ever happened again at the house. 
Mark Stone, citing period newspaper articles and advertisements accessed at newspapers.com; also citing City Directory entries accessed at the UNT Digital Archives at https://texashistory.unt.edu/ 

Google Earth Street View, accessed 04/18/2021

Google Earth Street View, accessed 04/18/2021

Google Earth Street View, accessed 04/18/2021