City Hall

Clyde Barrow's Childhood Home and Family Filling Station Demolished in West Dallas

Clyde Barrow's childhood home was reduced to rubble, despite West Dallas residents' attempts to have it protected with a historic designation.
Clyde Barrow's childhood home was reduced to rubble, despite West Dallas residents' attempts to have it protected with a historic designation. Caroline Pritchard
Last week, a property formerly owned by the family of outlaw Clyde Barrow was demolished. The plan to tear it down began in 2020 and when it was done, the Barrow filling station in West Dallas was reduced to rubble and the remains were taken to the landfill.

Barrow’s father, Henry, moved his house from Muncie Avenue to a property on what was then called Eagle Ford Road. The street is now Singleton Boulevard. He’d later add more to the building, turning part of it into a gas service station. Clyde Barrow lived in the house when it was still on Muncie Avenue.

While he traveled state to state on a crime spree with Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow’s family was running the filling station, according to Oak Cliff Advocate.

The location seemed to become a target for some 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. Just a few months later, two members of the Barrow family were shot by West Dallas gunrunner Baldy Whatley, a former member of the Barrow gang. The month after the shooting, the station was fire bombed twice.

None of this, including the 13 murders Bonnie and Clyde were accused of, is history that should be celebrated, according to Brent Jackson, the current owner of the property. Jackson is the founder and president of the real estate development company Oaxaca Interests. He didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

“He did murder a number of first responders,” Jackson said of Clyde Barrow during a March 2020 Landmark Commission meeting. “The guy murdered multiple multiple multiple people.”

But some West Dallas residents argued to the Landmark Commission at the time that the building should be protected with a landmark designation. 

“It’s something that’s devastating to us as a community." – Omar Narvaez, Dallas City Council member

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One West Dallas native named Elsa Cadena told the Landmark Commission in 2020: “There are those who say we should not glorify criminals and poverty, but this is part of our history. … Why doesn’t West Dallas have more historical landmarks? Because West Dallas was where the poorest of the poor lived. These were the forgotten ones. The immigrants. And yes, even the criminals.”

Debbie Solis, a community activist and lifelong West Dallas resident, also spoke to the Landmark Commission in support of the designation in 2020. After it was demolished last week, Solis told the Observer it didn't matter if the property had a negative historical context. To her, it should have still been protected. “History is history,” Solis said. “People go all over the world to see things of interest to them. … You would always see people coming by to see where Bonnie and Clyde, where they lived, where the family had their gas station. We saw it. I saw people come all the time, so it’s just part of our history.”

Dallas City Council members are not allowed to be involved in the Landmark Commission's work. It’s left up to their appointed commissioners and city staff. This is meant to ensure City Council members aren’t putting their thumb on the scale against any developer, land owner or community to make a landmark designation happen.

Omar Narvaez, the City Council member for this part of town, addressed the demolition Thursday in a live video on Facebook. “It’s something that’s devastating to us as a community,” Narvaez said.

He commended his Landmark Commissioner for "having the bravery to start that designation.” He said, “This site has a positive and negative historical context, as it was affiliated to the infamous Bonnie and Clyde.”

He said the Landmark Commission began the designation process in early March 2020, in opposition to the property owner’s wishes. The designation process has to be finished in a two-year period. That two years ran out just a couple of weeks ago.

Narvaez said that’s when “a tenant-slash-owner by another name pulled a [demolition] permit stating that this was a single family dwelling or duplex on commercially zoned property. That was on April 15 of this year.

“All of us know that the Clyde Barrow family service station was abandoned and that nobody lived in there, nor was it ever converted to be a duplex,” Narvaez said. Appearing to hold back tears, he added: “Unfortunately, this morning that piece of West Dallas history has been destroyed. There’s nothing that we can do now to bring it back.”

He then took aim at the developer, saying Brent Jackson uses a separate company, named WillieJaxon V, LLC, as an alias to purchase properties across West Dallas and South Dallas. Jackson is named as an 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 with his words in case the city needed to pursue legal action.

“Trust me, there are very strong words that I would like to say instead,” he said. “However, I will let you know that I am beyond disappointed regarding this travesty, and I have called upon the city attorney and the city manager to fully investigate this matter because this can no longer happen or occur in West Dallas or any other part of our great city.

“Together we are one Dallas and when one person decides to take away our history and put it upon themselves to determine what should stay and what should not stay is a travesty.”

Page Jones, a spokesperson for the city, said the demolition did not violate city code because the "predesignation moratorium" that protected the site from demolition for two years, expired in early March. Jones said the designation process didn't progress because the owner didn't consent to the designation designations were 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, though, she suspects it will be the site of new high rises in the future.

“I really don’t know what he wants to do, but when I look at what’s already happening a little further 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 bulldozing our past."
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn