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Richter’s Bakery: A San Antonio Original

April 12, 2012

William Louis Richter arrived in San Antonio from Virginia, by way of Frederickburg, Texas, in 1879. He got a job as the pastry chef at the Menger Hotel and moonlighted at Solcher’s Bakery, where he and t he owner’s daughter, Emma Solcher, fell in love.  Will and Emma were wed on July 25, 1882 and a week later opened their own bakery with a $200 loan from Emma’s father.  Within a few years the business and family had grown and a new space was needed.  The Richters purchased a lot at the juncture of  Laredo, East (now Santa Rosa) and South Fifth (now César E. Chávez) streets.  The family’s residence and the business’ storage buildings were separate from the bakery, which faced Laredo Street, but were connected by breezeways.

The Richters moved into their new location on April 10, 1886, Richter's Bakery Collection, MS 57, UTSA Special Collections.

Business for Richter Bakery continued to increase. In 1890 they added home delivery via horse-drawn carriage.  With the expansion of both the business and the family, the Richters had once again outgrown their headquarters.  A larger two-story brick building was erected in 1902 to replace the wood frame units.  The bakery’s retail store, office and shipping room were downstairs along with a family dining room and large kitchen.  Upstairs was the family’s living quarters, including a veranda used as a family gathering place with a swing and all of Emma’s plants.

Two-story brick structure, erected in 1902, circa 1920s, Richter's Bakery Collection, MS 57, UTSA Special Collections.

The next few years saw numerous improvements and changes for the Richters.  A 12-stall stable was added to the property to accommodate the large number of horses needed for deliveries.  In 1912 the Butter Krust brand name was registered with the Texas Secretary of State.  That same year the Richters began using a truck for deliveries.  In 1919 they bought the property across the street from the bakery and in 1920 they opened a modern plant, which was able to turn out up to 150, 000 loaves of bread a day. In the 20s the Richters moved bread production to a new plant in south Austin and San Antonio operations focused on the cake business, with the creation of a new enterprise in 1926, Colonial Cakes.  By 1927 Colonial Cakes was the 2nd largest express shipper in San Antonio and the next year the bakery bought its first slicing machine and Butter Krust began selling sliced bread.

Retail Merchant's Association of Texas members standing on the Alamo, San Antonio, 1904. William L. Richter is on the right, Richter's Bakery Collection, MS 57, UTSA Special Collections.

Will Richter retired in 1930 to his home in Monte Vista with his wife Emma and named his son Herman president of the company, which continued to grow under the direction of  Will’s sons and grandsons.  Plants  were opened in Corpus Christi and Harlingen, while the plants in San Antonio and Austin multiplied and expanded. Members of the Richter family continued as leaders of the Butter Krust – Colonial Cakes empire until the companies were sold in 1994 to Flowers Industries of Thomasville, Georgia.  Production of Richter’s products ceased in 1997.

San Antonio Light, Richter's Section, July 3, 1927, Richter's Bakery Collection, MS 57, UTSA Special Collections.

For additional information about Richter’s Bakery, please see “The story of William Louis and Emma Solcher Richter and Richter’s Bakery” by Rudolph William Richter in collaboration with Mary Ann Noonan-Guerra [F394.S2 R53 1980]. This 45-page booklet about the company and the family can be found in both UTSA Libraries Special Collections reading rooms, as well as in the Richter’s Bakery Collection. Materials from the manuscript collection have recently been digitized and can be found in our online repository – Richter’s Bakery digitized content.  The collection is relatively small and digitized content primarily consists of photographs and a microfilmed copy of the July 3, 1937 San Antonio Light insert commemorating the business’ 45th anniversary.

3 Comments leave one →
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