O. A. Barrett Contructed a Historic Building

In December of 1904, O. A. Barrett bought the first section of farm land from White Deer Lands and began to raise wheat. A copy of Gray County’s 50th Anniversary Souvenir Program shows the signature of Mrs. O. A. Barrett and the date she came to Gray County – 1904. A map of the suburbs of Pampa, dated January 25, 1917, shows the name of O. A. Barrett on Block 55, bounded by Brown Avenue on the north, Tuke Avenue on the south and Gillespie Street on the west.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

About 1926 the J. A., Poole family lived at this location. Frank’s Foods (300 East Brown) is now (2001) in this block. The 1910 promotional booklet of White Deer Lands shows a picture of the O. A. Barrett red brick building as it was being constructed at the corner of Cuyler and Foster. It is not known when the building was completed but records show that the Fairview Cemetery Association met at the Barrett Land Office on October 14, 1908. At some time the Gray County State Bank moved from its original location at 10 South Cuyler across the street to the red brick building con- structed by O. A. Barrett. The first Pampa City Directory (1929) shows Gray County State Bank at 100 South Cuyler, C. B. Barnard at 102 South Cuyler and Clarence Saunders at 104 South Cuyler.

In following years many varied businesses were housed in the red brick building. These included a drug store, several pharmacies, department stores and Sears Roe- buck – to name a few. On Wednesday, September 22, 1982, The Pampa News had this headline, “Fire destroys historic building.” David Christenson, staff writer, reported the event. Pampa firemen were called to the scene about 4:55 a.m. when two police officers smelled smoke while doing a routine check of the First National Bank (100 N. Cuyler). The officers, searching for the smoke smell, “came around and saw flames on the roof of the Salvation Army Thrift Store.” (102.S. Cuyler). Smoke was shooting out the top of the building and settling down to street level about a block away.

Hose handlers entered the building through the front door to spray the blaze that was consuming clothing, books and furniture. Firemen broke out the windows of the building to let out the smoke, and watered the storefront and the adjacent businesses, including Fred’s Gun Shop at 106 S. Cuyler.

Fred Carothers, owner of the gun shop, who was called to the scene about the same time as the firemen, said, “I’ve got a lot of gunpowder and ammunition in there, so if the fire got in there, it’d get pretty lively.” But because a double brick wall between the businesses served as a firewall, the uninsured gun shop was spared everything but smoke damage. Firemen saw smoke turn to steam in the main room of the thrift store about an hour after they got to the fire and thought that the blaze was under control. Then they learned that the blaze had spread through the attic to the State Farm office (100 S. Cuyler) and was spreading along the store fronts westward on Foster before the firemen could control the outbreak.

About 6:15 a.m. firemen announced over emergency radio that the fire was through the roof. About half an hour later the roofs of the thrift store and the offices began to collapse in a shower of sparks and flaming lumber. Firemen, working from the street, roofs, alley and a ladder above the Foster Street front had the fire under control about 7:30 a.m. A total of eight trucks and about 30 firefighters had been called to the scene before it was all over. The next day Fire Marshall said that the apparent cause of the fire was a short in the wiring in the upper rear of the attic of the thrift store. The dropped ceiling in the store, which created a trapped space below the original ceiling, may have kept the fire out of the reach of the water. He said, “Those dropped ceilings are really a fire hazard. They may make an older building look better but if you get a fire started in them, it’s tough to put out.” Business offices damaged or ruined by the fire were the Salvation Army Thrift Store, Glen Courtney’s State Farm Insurance office, George Clark’s tax and bookkeeping office and the New York Life Insurance of Otis Nace. At the time of the fire, the red brick building was owned by “Panhandle Tower Company.” Joe Hawkins, co-partner with R. D. “Red” Hawkins and Bill Haw- kins, said that he estimated about $80,000 loss in the fire. The company did not want to reconstruct the building and planned to sell the property to “some- one who wants to build on it.”

It is thought that Otis Nace ( and (?) perhaps Ruth Osborne) bought the property. A small courtyard was developed at the corner of Cuyler and Foster and a building was constructed having seven office spaces on Foster. About eight years ago, Gene and Jannie Lewis bought the property from Ruth Osborne and Otis Nace. Now (2001) Jannie Lewis owns the property and has office space rented to an insurance agency, two beauty shops and two psychiatrists.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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