Last week, a property once owned by the family of outlaw Clyde Barrow was demolished. The demolition plan began in 2020 and when it was done, the Barrow gas station in West Dallas was reduced to rubble and the remains were taken to the landfill.
Barrow’s father, Henry, moved his home from Muncie Avenue to a property on what was then called Eagle Ford Road. The street is now Singleton Boulevard. Later, he will add others to the building, transforming part of it into a service station. Clyde Barrow lived in the house when it was still on Muncie Avenue.
As he traveled interstate on a crime spree with Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow’s family ran the gas station, according to Defender of Oak Cliff.
The location appeared to become a target for a time after Parker and Clyde Barrow were killed in 1934. In 1938 there was a fire at the business, which the Barrow family suspected was an attack. A few months later, two members of the Barrow family were shot by West Dallas gunman Baldy Whatley, a former member of the Barrow gang. The month following the shooting, the station was set on fire twice.
None of this, including the 13 murders Bonnie and Clyde have been charged with, is a story that should be celebrated, according to Brent Jackson, the property’s current owner. Jackson is the founder and president of the real estate development company Oaxaca Interests. He did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“He killed a number of first responders,” Jackson said of Clyde Barrow at a March 2020 Landmark Commission meeting. “The guy killed multiple people multiple people.”
But some West Dallas residents argued at the time with the Landmark Commission that the building should be protected with a landmark designation.
“It’s something that devastates us as a community.” – Omar Narvaez, Dallas City Council Member
A West Dallas native named Elsa Cadena told the Landmark Commission in 2020, “There are those who say we shouldn’t glorify criminals and poverty, but that’s part of our history. …Why doesn’t West Dallas have more historical landmarks? Because West Dallas was where the poorest of the poor lived. They were the forgotten ones. Immigrants. And yes, even criminals.
Debbie Solis, a community activist and longtime resident of West Dallas, also spoke to the Landmark Commission to support the designation in 2020. Following its demolition last week, Solis told the Observer it didn’t matter that the property had a negative historical context. For her, he should still have been protected. “History is history,” Solis said. “People go all over the world to see things that interest them. … You would always see people coming to see where Bonnie and Clyde were, where they lived, where the family had their gas station. We have seen it. I saw people coming all the time, so it’s part of our history.
Members of the Dallas City Council are not permitted to participate in the work of the Landmark Commission. That’s left to their appointed commissioners and city staff. This is to ensure that City Council members do not put their thumbs up against a developer, landowner or community to make a historic designation happen.
Omar Narvaez, a city council member for that part of town, addressed the demolition on Thursday in a Facebook Live video. “It’s something that is devastating for us as a community,” Narvaez said.
He praised his Landmark commissioner for “having the courage to begin this designation”. He said: “This site has both positive and negative historical context, as it was affiliated with the infamous Bonnie and Clyde.”
He said the Landmark Commission began the designation process in early March 2020, contrary to the owner’s wishes. The designation process must be completed within two years. Those two years passed just a few weeks ago.
Narvaez said that was when “a tenant-owner by another name pulled a [demolition] permit indicating it was a single family home or duplex on commercial zoned property. It was April 15 of this year.
“We all know that the Clyde Barrow family service station was abandoned and no one lived there, and it was never converted into a duplex,” Narvaez said. Seeming to hold back tears, he added: “Sadly this morning this piece of West Dallas history was destroyed. There is nothing we can do now to bring it back.
He then took aim at the developer, claiming that Brent Jackson uses a separate company, named WillieJaxon V, LLC, as an alias to buy properties in West Dallas and South Dallas. Jackson is appointed agent and director of WillieJaxon, which shares the same mailing address as his other company, Oaxaca Interests.
Narvaez said he was told to be careful what he said in case the city needed to take legal action.
“Believe me, there are some very strong words I would like to say instead,” he said. “However, I will let you know that I am more than disappointed with this travesty, and have asked the City Attorney and the City Manager to fully investigate this matter, as it can no longer happen or happen. produce in West Dallas or any other part of our great city.
“Together we are one Dallas and when one person decides to take our story and take it upon themselves to figure out what should stay and what shouldn’t, that’s a travesty.”
Page Jones, a city spokesman, said the demolition did not violate city code because the “pre-designation moratorium” that protected the site from demolition for two years expired in early March. Jones said the designation process did not progress because the owner did not consent to designation designations being suspended during the pandemic.
Solis said she’s not sure what will be built on the property now that it’s been cleared. If she had to guess, however, she suspects it will be the site of new skyscrapers in the future.
“I really don’t know what he wants to do, but when I look at what’s already happening a little lower down, it’s obvious,” Solis said. “Our history is being destroyed. We’ve been here for generations. Many families have been here for generations. And now people are coming in and they’re just destroying our past.