The new retail location for Hyo Silver, a 20-year-old Bandera business known for its hand-crafted buckles and jewelry and custom class rings, is part museum, part business, part tourist destination and completely reflects the spirit of Bandera.
Hyo Silver Downtown had a soft opening for its new home, 315 11th St. in Bandera, on Thursday, May 28, following a nearly yearlong renovation project.
Hyo Silver’s old home was at 1107 12th St. in Bandera. It will continue to be used as company’s design, customer service and shipping center.
“We believe that this move is going to be a win-win for our community and for our business,” said Jo Symons, Hyo Silver founder and president.
“We have visitors who come from all over Texas and neighboring states to shop at Hyo Silver, and they never see the rest of Bandera and all that it has to offer. And I know that we were missing out on opportunities by not being part of the downtown community and its many visitors,” she said.
The newly renovated building, built about 1860, is located at the corner of Cedar and 11th streets.
The two-story, native limestone structure has been a bank, school, home, various retail stores and businesses, and housed the telephone switchboard for Bandera, according to Roy Dugosh, former president and longtime member of the Bandera County Historical Commission.
A Texas historical marker in front of the building proclaims the site the center of the town of Bandera in the early years.
Symons called the building restoration her passion project because, “I have a love of older things, and I really appreciate the historical importance of the building.”
“Back then, things were built with what was available at the time. You have to respect that,” the owner said. “We knew that restoring the building would take some time, but we saw it as an opportunity to give back to the community. It was in dire need of restoration, or the town could have risked losing the building.”
“I am happy that I was in a position do the renovation. We spent a considerable amount of money on the project and got grants from the Bandera EDC (Economic Development Corporation),” Symons said.
She said while some have said those grants paid for the restoration, that was not the case.
The building’s frontier pedigree and the origins of Hyo Silver seemed to be a natural fit, according to Josie Symons Krider, vice president of the company and Jo Symons’ daughter.
“It’s part of the local Western heritage and Bandera’s roots,” Krider said. “So this is the perfect building to showcase our collection of old favorites and new designs.”
The cowboy culture of Texas and the “Down Under” Aussie spirit of self-independence were a natural fit to Symons, a native of Australia.
She opened her business in the capital of Cowboy Culture in 1999 and came up with an unusual name, which is a story in itself.
Symons’ father was a roper who would take her on the Australian rodeo circuit when she was young. She ran barrels, tied goats, competed in some father-daughter events and went on to become Miss Rodeo Australia in 1982.
Symons said she and her father shared a passion for all things Western, especially “The Lone Ranger” television show.
When it was time for her to strike out on her own, Symons said the show’s slogan “Hi Yo Silver, away!” popped into her head and the phrase was turned into her store’s namesake.
Krider said the building’s restoration was extensive, including the replacement of the staircase and upper deck, all the building’s windows and the mortar on the limestone.
The foundation was secured, and a wheelchair-accessible entrance and bathroom were added. Fiber internet, new indoor and outdoor lighting and gutters were installed.
Historic doors were refinished and installed with brass fixtures and glass knobs.
“We want to express our gratitude to officials on both the state and local level for their valuable insight and guidance in helping us keep the restoration historically accurate,” Krider said. “The Texas Historical Commission was especially helpful with its recommendations. And Jimmy Allen, Bandera’s code enforcement officer, was very easy to work with, generous with his time and worked efficiently to get clean and concise answers to our questions.”
Complementing the newly restored showroom is the early American cabinetry that aligns perfectly with the timeline of the building, Krider said.
The J.D. Warren cabinets date from October 9, 1913. They were purchased from Eva Lee with Country Accent Antiques, who completed a custom restoration of the features.
“These amazing display cabinets were introduced in the Agriculture Exhibit at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri,” Lee said. “They revolutionized how America bought and sold hardware at the turn of the century.”
The renovated business is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
An official grand opening for the business will be held once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control enough for that to take place.