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Later History

From 1943 through 1978, River Oaks Courts remained a tourist motel as it underwent several changes in ownership and a few improvements. William C. and Bertha Horger, with partner J.P. Slater, purchased Stokes Motor Courts from Maud in 1943. To reflect a change in ownership, they changed the business name to River Oaks Courts after the plentiful oaks on the property along the Medina River. The Horgers moved into the 1930 bungalow, and Slater lived in one of the fieldstone cottages until he sold his share of the business the next year. In 1945, the Horgers built a two-story building with four individual units and erected a roadside “River Oaks Courts” metal neon sign on TX 16. The new construction communicated the owners’ hopes for a new era in the business’s success. The next year, however, the Horgers sold River Oaks Courts to Theola Arnott who, in turn, sold it to Guy and Alta Stroup in 1948.

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The Stroups operated the River Oaks Courts for several years, actively promoting the property with newspaper advertisements as well as hosting events for the community.  The Stroups marketed the lodgings in new postcards that advertised “kitchenettes, refrigerators, Simmons mattresses, swimming and picnicking”  In 1954 the Stroups sold the property and the deed contains an inventory of all the furnishings for each cottage, which were included as part of the sale.  From 1954 to 1969, Lela and Alfred Henry owned River Oaks Courts and operated it for long and short-term rentals, like Stokes had done in the 1930s.

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The Henrys sold the property to Frances Harllee in 1970,  That year the Texas Historic Commission conducted a survey of historic buildings in Medina, noting the River Oaks Courts and photographing the original house and Cabin #1.  Harllee owned the property for 4 years, selling to Joyce and Theo James in 1974. 

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In the 1970s, River Oaks Courts gradually shifted from tourist lodging to majority long-term leasing. Although the nature and timeline of the shift is not definite, the decline of its tourist business was likely the result of several factors. The state and federal government began construction on Interstate 10, a major east-west highway, in 1959. The I-10 stretch from San Antonio to Kerrville completely bypassed Bandera County, and tourists were encouraged to travel the four-lane highway rather than the meandering state roads, like TX-16 through Medina. It is also a reflection of the changing hotel/motel business in the latter half of the 20th century when large hotel chains opened motels along the new federal highways, pulling clientele from independently-owned tourist courts like River Oaks Courts. In 1978, a flood of the Medina River devastated the local community, and River Oaks Courts was among the many properties damaged. A photograph of Maud Stokes demonstrated where the water level peaked in one of the cottages. Following that event, long-term renters and the owners sporadically inhabited River Oaks Courts, and the pattern of limited occupation continued through the first decades of the next century until purchased by the current owners for renovation in 2017.

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