Continental State Bank Building
109 West Renfro Street
By Robert Griffith, October 2008

Lot 1 of block 3 was sold to Major J.C. Jones, depot agent for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad on 1 April 1893 by the G.M. Dodge Construction Company. On lot 1, Jones erected a wooden false-front business house. He sold the east half of the lot to Doctor W.A. Duringer, and then sold the west half to the dry goods firm of Conner & Butts on 1 June 1895. According to the 21 June 1895 Burleson Banner, Mr. Butts arrived in Burleson on 6 May 1895.

W.A. Duringer lost his business in the 20 February 1895 blaze which destroyed many businesses along Front Street. On 1 March 1895, the uninsured Duringer sold the east half of lot 1 to J.H. Burton, formerly of Mills County; with his brother, they opened Burton Brothers, a drugstore. The 21 June 1895 Banner article lists Burton as another “recent arrival,” most likely after the February fire.

In 1898, the Burtons built on to the rear of their business. The following year, on 6 January 1899, J.H. Burton sold the east 57 and a half feet of lot 1 with the building to G.W. Bransom. The drugstore continued to operate from the structure, however.

Another ruinous fire swept downtown Burleson on 21 January 1902, claiming Bransom’s building. The following year, 14 December 1903, G.W. Bransom sold lot 1 to W.P. Lace, owner of the building on lot 2 immediately south. Historian Michael H. Beard writes: “Mr. Lace, who was also a pharmacist like Mr. Burton, was the town’s Postmaster and not only lost his drugstore to the fire, but the Post Office he maintained in his building as well. Mr. Lace, bent on seeing the main business block restored, in all, purchased three lots following the fire, this lot included. The town had no bank in the past, and there was much need and desire for such a business to serve the growing community. Bill Lace realized the importance of such an institution to any successful business district, so he and others worked to secure such services.”

The present-day two-story brick structure rose from the site around 1904. Historian Michael Beard notes that “The original design of the second story with its covered veranda overlooking the railroad was a unique feature of the Front Street (Main Street) skyline.” Receipts and correspondence from G.W. Bransom indicate the Continental State Bank & Trust of Burleson began about 1904. J.G. Wilkinson, formerly an officer in the Continental State Bank & Trust of Fort Worth is listed as President, G.W. Bransom Vice-Presient, and L.D. Harbin Cashier in a 1913 letter. Other directors of the bank at various times included Dr. S.P. McNairn, L.P. Wynne, and O.R. Smith. The bank reorganized in 1911 and later moved to the opposite corner of the block.

Receipt to R.N. Warren from the Continental
Bank & Trust dated October 30, 1905.
George W. Bransom Papers, Courtesy Alice Bransom

On 25 September 1909, the Dallas Morning News reported on a fire which claimed the fifteen-room Burleson School at eight o’clock the night before. “[The building] was valued at about $12,000, with $1,000 insurance. The top floor was occupied by the Masons, who carried $500 insurance on their furniture.” The fire must have inspired memories of the blazes in 1895 and 1902. It prompted the creation of the Burleson Independent School District and construction of a three-story red-brick school. Masonic Lodge 649, meanwhile, moved into the second-story of the Wilson Brothers Furniture Store. In 1911, the bank reorganized, becoming the Continental State Bank of Burleson and moving to the opposite end of the block. In 1915, the building began housing Lodge 649. In successive decades, W.A. Orr and J.J. George owned the building.

Bill from W.A. Orr & Co., successors to S.F. Hackney & Son
George W. Bransom Papers, Courtesy Alice Bransom

Henry Pollack purchased the building from Mrs. George on 10 January 1930 and sold it to Masonic Lodge 649 on 4 March 1942. The Masons utilized the second floor for their meetings and the first for banquet space. Lodge 649 continued meeting in the building until 2002. In 2005, Shelia Birth and Charles Stewart purchased and renovated the structure, building an addition to the rear and installing wrought-iron decorative detailing. Brad Smith, a local artist, painted a mural on the east side of the building in 2006.

Masonic Lodge 649 (far right) Circa 1980s
Photo Copyright Michael H. Beard

Drs. Shelia Birth & Charles Stewart Orthodontics, August 10, 2008
Photo Copyright Robert Griffith

View from Renfro Street of artist
Brad Smith's spectacular mural
August 10, 2008
Photograph Copyright Robert Griffith

Bibliography
"$12,000 Fire at Burleson." Dallas Morning News 25 September 1909: 1909.
"A Bad Man on the Rampage-Real Estate Transfers, Etc." Dallas Morning News 28 October 1885.
Beard, Michael H. "Continental State Bank Building." Comp. Michael H. Beard. Burleson.
Burleson Historical Committee. Burleson - The First One Hundred Years. Dallas: Taylor Publishing, 1981.
"Conflagration at Burleson." Dallas Morning News 21 February 1895.
"Burleson and Her Business Men as appeared in The Burleson Banner." Burleson News 25 October 1945.

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