Threatened Historic Sites in Burleson
By Robert Griffith, Updated August 2011

Much as I love Burleson, the town has never been known for its citizens' respect for their heritage. As Burleson continues a stellar period of growth, the potential for harm to its old homes and buildings has never been greater. The 1910s era Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad Depot and three-story Burleson School fell to the bulldozer in the '60s. In the last three years, the Alta Jack Home (formerly across from City Market), The Toastry (more recently known as Tom's Trading Post), and Nola Dunn Elementary School were razed to make way for newer developments.

While the architecture of Burleson is not unique nor even its most important pioneers pivotal to Texas History, Burleson nonetheless has a history all its own, increasingly threatened by redevelopment in the 'Old Town Overlay District' and the spread of new residential and retail development into once isolated farms and neighborhoods. Based on their location, current disposition, and condition, the following are some of Burleson's most threatened historic sites.

~~~~~

The Dobson House
140 South Dobson Street

Location:
140 South Dobson Street, across from Nola Dunn Elementary and adjacent to a new four-suite shopping center at the corner of Dobson & Ellison Streets.

Provenance:
Constructed sometime between 1890-1900 by the S.F. Hackney Lumber Company for George Washington Dobson, Burleson's first Justice of the Peace and Public Notary. Later the home of William Bransom and his descendants. A reunion of the A.P. Hill Chapter, Sons of the Confederacy, was held at the house in 1903. After decades as a private residence, the home became a nursery and gift store.

Why threatened?
In 2011, the home has been significantly renovated and the property cleaned up. As of August 2011, it remains to be seen what the home's use will be, but for the time being, it appears to be safe.

What can be done?
This house still needs a hero, and with Burleson's growing population and its proximity to a revitalized Downtown, the home could still be threatened by nearby development and a weak economy.


George's House (The Motorman's Shack)
Behind 117 East Ellison Street

October 13, 2007
Photo Copyright Robert Griffith

January 24, 2010
Photo Copyright Michelle Griffith

August 7, 2011
Photo Copyright Michelle Griffith

Location:
Behind 117 East Ellison Street, visible from Renfro and Dobson Streets.

Provenance:
In 1912, the Stone & Webster Syndicate of Boston, managers for the Fort Worth Southern Traction Company, constructed an interurban station at 124 W Ellison Street. Behind the stately building, they erected a modest one-room shack for motormen to rest in between the last run of the interurban electric railway and the first run to Cleburne at 6 a.m. the following morning.

After the interurban departed Burleson for the last time on April 30, 1931, the shack became a storage house and later the home of George Conway (1894-1967). Conway, a veteran of World War I, came to Burleson on a wagon looking for work during the Great Depression. Described as a colorful character, George endeared himself to the town's residents, including Druggist A.H. Loyless, who hired him to clean his shop. Loyless offered Conway the use of the old motorman's shack and looked after him for nearly thirty years. According to Louis McAlister, the motorman's shack was removed from the former interurban property about 1947 and deposited behind the Loyless home one block away at the corner of Warren and Bufford Streets. Conway died in 1967, and the Loylesses moved to Austin in 1969.

Why threatened?
In January 2010, the shack's owner turned it over to the Burleson Heritage Foundation. After clearing brush from around the shack and securing 2 x 12 braces at the base, the Foundation ripped the building from its floor, tipped it sideways, and hauled it on a trailer several blocks to a patch of grass behind the H. Walton Baker Home.

After months of neglect and continued deterioration, the Foundation and contractors replaced much of the interior and exterior of the shack, approximating its appearance of a century ago. As of August 2011, doors have not been added, although the shack now sits atop a concrete pad and is the centerpiece of the planned H. Walton Baker Heritage Park.

Related Article:
George's House, by Michael H. Beard

~~~~~

Related Resources
Boards and Commissions for the City of Burleson
Future Land Use Map provided by the City of Burleson

Links