In 1874 Whittaker Keesey authorized his brother, Otis M., to build a house and corral near Fort Davis for trading in general merchandise and liquor. In 1876 Louis Cardis leased a 200 foot square plot for a stagecoach station. After Cardis death in the 1877 Salt Wars the Keeseys operated a mercantile business in the total complex. In 1906 A.F. Peschke was hired to replace the “main portion” of the adobe structure with a stone building “to have a basement, hand-operated freight elevator and a coal shute.” The business became the Union Trading Company in 1908, and by 1913 the south entrance of the store had been closed with a veneer of matching stone.
Over the years “The Union” complex contained a general store, stables, U.S. Post Office, gentleman’s club and bar, machine shop, feed store, lumber yard, the First Electric Company and Telephone Exchange, meeting room, and chamber of commerce, and served as a community and mercantile center for the Fort Davis Region.
The 19th century buildings have adobe walls and wood framed roofs, and show evidence of repeated modification. The 1874 adobe building has load bearing walls, and well-crafted long-leaf pine woodwork.
The 1906 stone structure has cast stone details. The roof truss has single boards spanning 30 feet. Three strengthened trusses held an original wood balcony with iron rods. The balcony was reduced and the stair moved from the east to west wall. A wall separating the east (Post Office) wing has been removed.
Documentation was undertaken in the summer of 1996 by Frederic Clifford, Mark Cowan (Field Supervisor), Kathleen Ellinger, Julie Gavin, and Nicholas Rodnicki for the Historic Resources Imaging Laboratory at Texas A&M University, David G. Woodcock, FAIA, RIBA, Director. The study was supported by Jeff Davis County, the Fort Davis National Historic Site, and the Historic American Buildings Survey.