Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Visit to the Barrow Filling Station and Residence. Someone Needs to Save This Important Piece of Bonnie & Clyde History

Every saga of history has it's locations, where "history was made". And if so fortunate, those of us living lives within our own times-- can visit these hallowed spots to gain insights into history.  Bonnie & Clyde History is no different-- for within the saga of Bonnie & Clyde,  we're familiar with many of the locations where this deadly cat and mouse game played out-- which would eventually spell the end for Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow, and grant welcomed satisfaction for the law after a prolonged struggle.  

Unfortunately, many Bonnie & Clyde historical spots have been lost over the years-- with some removed from existence within just the recent past.  In Louisana, Bonnie & Clyde's last hideout is gone-- so is Congers, Dr. Wades office, Gus Cole's little store near the Sailes Corner-- where Clyde reportedly bought an Orange Crush drink for LeVohn Cole, & her cousin-- and the Gibsland School where the wrecker towing Bonnie & Clyde's car (with bodies still inside)-- broke down.  There school children including Mildred Cole who told of this story-- learned an important lesson in life, and shared a unique experience likely never forgotten.

In Dallas, a number of residences so famously recounted within this history no longer exist-- including Buster & Edith Parker's home where Edith introduced Clyde to Bonnie.  However the Lilly McBride house still stands, as does Raymond Hamilton's house.  The former location of Hargrave's Cafe is still there-- however it sits within sight of Baylor University Hospital, who reportedly owns the land.  And you know, when hospitals need new parking spots-- they'll often utilize lands owned for such "vital" needs.  

But just around the corner from Swiss Circle-- the glass works where Clyde once worked is now reportedly gone.  When I was there a few years back (and fortunately for my memory snapped a photo of it)-- the building which housed the United Glass and Mirror Company at 2614-16 Swiss Avenue was still there.  However, construction was in progress immediately next to this building to enhance DART-- the Dallas Rapid Transit system. So I'd make a wager, DART took down this Bonnie & Clyde landmark left unprotected for decades-- for a use of their own.  So too in other locales such as Wellington and Platte City-- time has reclaimed land where Bonnie & Clyde haunts once stood, as testimony to a history filled with memorable & dramatic events.  

This brings me to the Barrow Station and residence.  No one to date has protected this important Bonnie & Clyde  historical site.  Having been sold by the Barrow family in the '40's-- the station's had different owners and uses over the years, often utilized for auto related ventures.  The land, building and adjacent lot-- are currently owned by a Dallas corporation.  I would think some who've owned the Barrow property, would appreciate walking within a building so steeped in history.  But I'll bet there have been others, who've cared very little about what happened there before.   

A few years back, I'd made an attempt to inspire a couple of individuals known within this history-- to consider buying the station to preserve it for history.  Part of that attempt, also involved inquiring about obtaining historical status through the State of Texas for this site.  As the Oakcliff section of West Dallas has seen a boon in construction recently, and a new viaduct has been erected from downtown Dallas to the West Dallas side of the Trinity River-- it seems more important than ever, to protect this important Bonnie & Clyde location while there's still time.  Last I heard, the asking price for the Barrow station and land is $300,000.

It surely seems many who are passionate about Bonnie & Clyde History care to think of this stuff-- but for the States of Texas and Louisiana and even for the locals involved, there's doesn't seem "a hill of beans" interest in protecting Bonnie & Clyde historical sites.  So every once in a while, you'll hear one Bonnie & Clyde site or another is gone.  

Perhaps someone seeing this article, will contact me with interest in the Barrow Station.  As there's been talk of turning an historically protected Barrow Station into a museum (good idea)-- perhaps that notion can be rekindled again.  It also pays to remember, The Star Filling Station wasn't just there to aid the Barrows in making a living-- but it was their home as well (located within an attached structure behind the business). 

As many around the world have likely not had the opportunity to visit this spot, where Bonnie, Clyde and many others within the history walked and lived-- I've posted photos I took a few years back.  I hope you'll enjoy seeing (up close & personal)-- the hallowed Barrow digs.  For anyone with interest in protecting the Barrow station & residence-- please contact me, as I'll gladly steer you in the right direction to initiate action concerning landmark status, partnership re: a museum or ownership.  Someone needs to save this indispensable part of Bonnie & Clyde History.  Perhaps it will be you.  Those who wait for others to act, sometimes share in disappointment.  Hopefully-- not the case here.

For those who'd like to visit the Barrow station and residence-- it's 1930's address of 1620 Eagle Ford Road, is more easily found today at it's current address-- 1221 Singleton Blvd (corner of Singleton Blvd & Borger St) in Oakcliff, West Dallas. 


Joe said...

The gas station/home should be perserved and turned into a museum as it is part of American history. The selling price may be too high for a single individual but possibly set up a limited partnership type of ownership. The general partner would own 51% and make decisions while the 49% would be owned by indiduals purchasing on a unit basis. The value of each unit would be obviously be set. This way there would be an entity making the decisions to the benefit of the limited partnership base.

A single entity would purchase the building for say $300,000 (times are tough)They would have a $153,000 stake in the purchase and offer $147,000 to limited partnership which could be divided into 294 units at say $500 a unit. Therefore if I wanted 2 units, I would invest $1000. Income and expenses would obviously be divided as per partnership and units.

A. Winston Woodward said...

What an interesting idea. Thank you. I'll run this past those previously involved in discussions re: the station. I'd love to hear additional ideas, others might like to share.

Joe said...

Hi Winston
If you want me to speak to investors with the idea and explore it some more. I can do that
Joe from Canada

mandaltby said...

Hi Winston, I'd also like to see this house become protected and I really can't believe that its not a visitors center. I guess the problem is that Clyde was a cop killer, and even though its been 80 years, its still a sore subject for Dallas. However, American history is so short, 350 years, and our culture is all about tear up the old to make room for new.
I would think that the Barrow service station says alot about the 30's Depression, I feel glad to be able to see it on Google Earth. If we could have some people that are in legislature take up this cause, it would help al ot. I would think if we could get in touch with the Dallas historical society, its a starting point. If people could forget for about the Barrow crimes, they'd see that little house is quite a gem. I'm afraid that some ignorant planning board would make it a parking lot or a new Wendy's. I see it as a Bonnie and Clyde Museum, a real one. If we think about it the only Bonnie and Clyde museum we have is where they got killed. That old service station just overflows with Depression era history. But the problem is that 1. Clyde was a cop killer and 2. the house is located in a slummy neighborhood now. If anyone as any other ideas Id love to hear them. Dan

A. Winston Woodward said...

Some good ideas-- particularly the idea of trying to interest someone in the Texas Legislature. I've discussed historical preservation of the Barrow Star Filling Station & residence with The DHS. Some members of the DHS board also sit on the Texas State Preservation Commission. The issue seems to be, that in order to gain State protection-- the station would need to be restored to it's original state or thereabouts. A Dallas corporation currently owns the station, which I'm not sure they even know the significance of?? Someone or someones would need to purchase the station and apply for historical status.

Don't know if you've been to the site in person-- but I don't know if I'd call Oak Cliff a slum. Not the best area, but not desolate. The problem for the Barrow place is that work "is" being done on the area-- and thus at some point, I would think that spot would come into play between it's owner and whomever was developing the area around it. I understand since I was there last, a new viaduct has been completed across the Trinity River which has enhanced travel to West Dallas. In my mind, time is of the essence-- but I don't see anyone stepping forward to help.

As I think I mentioned, I had tried to help broker a possible purchase a few years back-- but the parties I'd interested, never came to terms. Perhaps another attempt with other individuals is worth a shot.

Diane Dunaway said...


I have purchased the building on Swiss Circle that is mentioned in your blog as the former place of employment for Bonnie Parker in Hargrave's Cafe.

The History Channel is shooting a segment there today as they are doing a story on Bonnie and Clyde. The building has been renovated and has not been purchased by Baylor. I am currently working on a lease for it to be used for a restaurant/bar space.

Recently, the Advocate ran a story on my renovations. Here is that link.


A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Diane-- Glad to hear Baylor didn't get the Swiss Circle building. Heard DART did get the building around the corner, that once housed the glass business where Clyde worked. Last time I was there-- DART had construction equipment right up against that spot, and many of us feared a rapid transit stop would likely replace it. Oh, and when you renovate-- try to save those old concrete company markers in the sidewalk right out front of your building. I and others believe them to be perhaps original to the structure. Nice to hear from you.

Cindy said...

I visit the station, along with Chalk Hill Road school, every few weeks. The station is in rough shape as is the surrounding area. I don't go there alone, let's just put it that way. I, too, would like to see these locations protected and restored. I'd be crushed if they were torn down or just left to crumble over time.

Cindy said...

Also, if you're interested, I have recent images of B&C sites around Dallas on my website.