Burrus Grain Elevator Set for Demolition - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/27/04

Burrus Grain Elevator Set for Demolition

With cotton and cattle the backbone of the region's economy, the Burrus Grain Elevator was built in 1928, during the depression, to serve the growing needs of the South Plains.

The Burrus Grain Elevator is the second largest grain elevator on the South Plains. In 1998, the Texas Department of Transportation paid nearly $1 million to purchase the structure in order to move forward with the construction of the East-West Freeway in Lubbock.

"Before we demolished it we were required to document it, so we asked Texas Tech architecture students to come out and they did drawings and took photographs and did a historical analysis on the elevator and that's what we were required to do before we could demolish it," says Penny Mason with TxDOT.

They had to get special permission from the Texas Historical Preservation Officer to document the structure because of its importance.

A structure with such a long history is already sparking emotions from those who have seen it gracing the horizon. If you've driven down I-27 or the North Loop you can't miss this large grain elevator. Even at a distance the giant structure looms in the background.

This giant building, with its large history, has moved one Lubbock man to keep its memory alive for future generations. "Our purpose is to go ahead and take this historical places and historical history of Lubbock county and try to put it in good places and try to save it," says Dr. Robert Carr, who's a physician by trade, and an historian at heart.

Carr is taking final snap shots of the Burrus Elevator. King of the grain industry for 70 years, it's now an empty giant, sitting quietly in the Lubbock skyline.

"My family moved out here in 1932 and so it was part of the landscape then and it's gonna be awfully hard to see it go because at one time it was the landscape practically down here expect for some small buildings," says Dr. Carr.

Originally built during the great depression by the JC Whaley Company for just over $125,000, this enormous elevator stored grain. It also serviced everything from box cars to pick up trucks owned by smaller farming operations. Ownership changed hands several times and the Lubbock City Council even tried transforming the elevator into a hotel.

"Retail is a possibility high rise retail will be something in the order of department offices some combination mixed use is possible, hotels on the bottom offices in the middle there are all kinds of opportunities," says Bob Lima, who did research on the Burrus Elevator in 1984.

But all of those opportunities never happened, and the elevator remained performing its original job until the late 1990's. But after 76 years gracing the Lubbock skyline, the Burrus Grain Elevator silently awaits its last 48 hours of life.

"Change is hard for anyone who gets older you get used to what you have, but I think obviously it's the best thing to be done. It's just a shame to have to tear it down," says Dr. Carr.

Dr. Carr will donate his photos to the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech, where they will go on display. Demolition of the grain elevator will begin Thursday morning at 8am. Contractors were originally going to destroy the structure by implosion, but instead will use a 10 ton weight to knock it down over 4 months.

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