Razing History
By Robert Griffith, May 2, 2009

Several historic sites in Burleson have fallen to the wrecking back since 2005. Here are some of them. . .

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The Toastery
116 South Burleson Boulevard

July 17, 2005
Photos Copyright Robert A. Griffith

Location:
Between Renfro and Ellison Streets on southbound Burleson Boulevard. The site is now home to the Renfro Square development conceived by businessmen Rocky Bransom and Brad Garrett.

Provenance:
On December 28, 2005 while taking pictures of the old Toastery before its disappearance from Burleson, the son-in-law of Tom's Trading Post owner Tom Sehlbach drove up to tell us what he knew of the building's past. According to him, the structure was built around the turn of the 20th Century as a private home in Joshua, six miles southwest of town. Prior to 1930, it was brought to Burleson and became Baker's Toastery. The Thursday, February 21, 1935 Burleson News reported: "O.E. (Prince) Searcy assumed management [of the Toastery] Sunday night. He is assisted by his wife and sister, Venna, in its operation. Mr. Searcy advises the he will specialize in lunches and sandwiches. This cafe, located on [State Highway 2], has all along catered to transient trade, though the new management advises that he is going after more of the local patronage." On May 2, 1935 the Burleson News reported that O.E. Searcy turned over Baker's Toastery to Pete Wynne. The Toastery served as the Greyhound Bus Lines stop in Burleson beginning in 1935 and continuing for many years.

State Highway 2, which followed Ellison Street, was eliminated in 1936 in favor of US Highway 81. In the 1960s, the Toastery was moved down to Highway 81 so the café could draw more traveling customers. Remembers Janie Stephens in Burleson: The First One Hundred Years, "After the [skating rink at Nola Dunn Gym] would close for the night, the lucky ones that could stay out until eleven o'clock met at the Toastery Cafe."

In later years, businessman Tom Sealbach purchased the property and an adjoining gas station (pictured above) and turned them into Tom's Trading Post, selling a variety of farm implements and products. The business closed in February 2005 to make way for the ambitious Renfro Square development. On February 3, 2006 the charming old Toastery came crashing down. The adjoining old gas station was razed soon thereafter.

If you know more, please contact Robert Griffith.


Alta Jack Home
225 East Renfro Street

February 21, 2009
Photos Copyright Robert A. Griffith

March 1, 2009
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

Location:
Across the street from City Market (formerly Bransom's) between Clark and Scott Streets.

Provenance:
Constructed in 1906 for Alta Jack, a longtime educator at Burleson and Baylor University. Lumber in the house bears the mark of S.F. Hackney, a pivotal figure in Burleson during the 1890s and early 1900s. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Moseley first rented, then bought the home from Alta Jack in the 1940s. Two of the Moseley children, Joe and Walterine, died defending the United States during World War II. According to Sybil Moseley in Burleson: The First One Hundred Years, her parents "rebuilt and renovated their home, putting in much work and much love. Years later the house had to be moved back to accomodate the widening of Renfro Street, but it was still a home." After the deaths of her parents, Wilmerine Moseley lived in the home with her husband, Lennie Clark.

The Alta Jack Home and an adjoining residence were purchased by businessmen Rocky Bransom and Brad Garrett in 2008. One of only a handful built with Hackney Lumber, the historic structure was bulldozed on February 23rd, 2009.


113 N Scott Street

July 17, 2005
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

Location:
In an alley behind the Burleson Wellness Center (113 N Scott Street) and adjacent to Scott Park.

Provenance
The Owenses operated a washeteria in this little building beginning in the '30s. It was torn down in 2007. Know more? Email Robert Griffith.


Russell Shannon Family Home
301 E Renfro Street

July 17, 2005
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

Location:
Corner of Renfro and Scott Streets, across from the Bransom & Garrett Renfro Square Development.

Provenance:
The home was constructed sometime during the 1930s. According to Burleson: The First One Hundred Years, Russell Shannon served as a Burleson alderman from 1947 to 1950. He married Mabel Clark on May 19, 1917. Mrs. Shannon was one of the "early workers who worked hard for the success of the lunchroom" at Nola Dunn Elementary recently demolished by the Burleson ISD. The home was a sales office for Gold Star Homes and an office for a local hospice care provider; it was purchased by local developers Rocky Bransom & Jim Garrett and torn down in April 2008. So far nothing has taken its place.

April 20, 2008
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith


116 NW Johnson Street

July 17, 2005
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

Location:
Corner of Magnolia and Johnson, across the street from the rear of the Burleson Police Station.

Provenance:
Not much has been found to-date about this home. During its move, one of the contractors remarked that the piers holding the home up were made of bois d'arc wood, which the man stated he had seen in homes built before 1910. Given the house's various uses, including its last as a gift shop, and the apparent modifications made to it over time, it is possible the home dates to before 1920. If that is the case, then it was one of the oldest homes in that section of town, northwest of the original townsite of Burleson.

The home was moved to Alvarado, according to a conversation with the movers. At one time, Tom Karsten, owner of the property, foresaw the enlargement of his business with a new office building. In the months since the home's disappearance from the Burleson landscape, nothing has been done with the property, which now is overgrown.

Know more? Email Robert Griffith.

August 16, 2008
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith


Nola Dunn Elementary School
201 South Dobson Street

Location:
Fronted by Dobson Street and bounded by Ellison, Miller, Scott, and Lawson Streets.

Provenance:
On the original Burleson School site, circa 1889. The original school building burned in 1909, leading to the creation of the Burleson Independent School District. A 1910 three-story building met the wrecking ball in 1964. The buildings town down in 2009 were classrooms, the first school lunch room in Johnson County, shop building, and other outbuildings constructed in 1947. A gymnasium built in 1936 with assistance from the Public Works Administration has been temporarily spared. These constituted the oldest public buildings in Burleson and a significant part of the Downtown Burleson area.

Despite a significant remodel in 2000, the district decided to raze the historic campus to make room for a massive $22,000,000 new school. Demolition began on February 27, 2009. While taking pictures at Nola Dunn, several parents and former students have approached me to tell about their personal efforts to preserve the school buildings. In one story, a parent said the BISD refused to allow the City of Burleson to remove crape myrtles from the grounds. Whatever the truth, it is apparent the buildings were demolished with some of their contents still inside and while several trees and bushes planted in the last decade have been clean-cut.

For over a month, members of the Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce, Burleson Heritage Foundation, and the Burleson Arts Council negotiated with the BISD to acquire the old lunch room building for the purpose of turning it into an office for the BACC. Several meetings were held, leading those involved to believe that the building might be saved. Minutes after a meeting between the aforementioned parties and leaders from the BISD on March 18th, 2009 a bulldozer with Garrett Demolition ripped into the structure, savagely tearing it up shortly before dusk. Clayton Boyd, a former Mayor of Burleson involved in the negotiations remarked to the Burleson Star on March 22nd, "I'd rather negotiate with a snake" than the Burleson ISD.

February 27, 2009
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

February 27, 2009
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

March 5, 2009
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

March 8, 2009
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

March 10, 2009
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

March 10, 2009
Photo Copyright Robert A. Griffith

For a CD of pictures from before, during, and after the demolition, please contact Robert Griffith.

Related Articles:
Replanting the Seed: Origins of the BISD, by Robert A. Griffith
The Burleson Gymnasium and Lunch Room, by Robert A. Griffith
The Burleson Gymnasium
One Last Walk Through Nola Dunn

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