TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
 
New   |   Texas Towns   |   Ghost Towns   |   Counties   |   Trips   |   Features   |   Columns   |   Architecture   |   Images   |   Archives   |   Site Map

Counties
Texas Counties

Texas Towns
A to Z
Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

THE BURNING HOUSE

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

Motorists traveling along U.S. Highway 59 in Polk County are often startled to see what appears to be flames pouring from the windows of old sawmill house.

The flames are actually enameled canvas, but there's nothing make-believe about the house, which once stood at New Willard, a sawmill ghost town a few miles away. "The Burning House" is an eye-popping piece of artwork conceived by artists Clint and Emily Sloan Alexander, both with deep roots in East Texas. Clint grew up at Leggett and Emily is a native of Diboll.

Located between Seven Oaks and Leggett on a plot of land owned by Clint's family, the Burning House provokes comments from everyone who sees it. Some take the time to leave written messages for the artists in a mailbox.

The old house--the type commonly found in early sawmill towns--is often called a "shotgun house" because, in the words of an old sawmiller, you could fire a shotgun through the front door and the pellets would exit at the back door.

Such houses were seen all over East Texas during the great lumbering boom of the early 1900s.

The Burning House was moved from New Willard, near Leggett and still bears the number 14 above its front door. The house housed a working sawmiller's family and was later used by a black woman who looked after Clint's great-grandmother. Still later, it served as a storage house.

Pooling their artistry--Clint is a painter and Emily produces sculptures--the Alexanders wanted to develop a form of art that said something about East Texas, particularly about the hundreds of vanished sawmill towns.

One traveler who stopped to examine the artwork observed that "it evokes images of a sawmill town that might have gone up in flames," which was the case in more than a few lumber towns.

New Willard was founded in the early 1900s when Thompson and Tucker Lumber Company moved its sawmill from Willard in Trinity County to a site near Leggett, north of Livingston, and named the site New Willard. The sawmill, however, soon exhausted its timber supplies and closed.

The artwork produces a variety of other comments, which is exactly what Clint and Emily were expecting. "We hope it has a different meaning for different people; that's what art is supposed to do," said Emily.

The "flames" pouring out of the building's seven windows were made of canvas and painted with nearly two dozen different colors. Clint and Emily spent more than 100 hours finishing the house.

It has an animated appearance that often stuns visitors. "It's like the flames are really moving," said a Houston businessman who stopped.

The biggest questions people ask are "What is it?" and "Why is it here?"

Clint and Emily plan to leave the Burning House beside the highway for as long as people stop and enjoy themselves.



All Things Historical August 21, 2006 Column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers

Related Topics
Columns | Texas Ghost Towns | Texas Towns | Texas Trips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLUMNS:

  • Mike Cox - "Texas Tales"
  • Clay Coppedge - "Letters from Central Texas"
  • Murray Montgomery - "Lone Star Diary"
  • Wanda Orton - "Wandering"
  • Michael Barr - "Hindsights"
  • Maggie Van Ostrand - "A Balloon in Cactus"
  • David Knape - "Once Upon A Line" Poems
  • Roger Todd Moore - "Moore Texas" Cartoons
  • John Troesser
  • More Things Historical:

  • "A Glimpse of Texas Past" by Jeffery Robenalt
  • "Bob Bowman's East Texas" by Bob Bowman
  • "All Things Historical" by Archie P. McDonald & Bob Bowman
  • "Cannonball's Tales" by W. T. Block Jr.
  • "It's All Trew" by Delbert Trew
  • "Charley Eckhardt's Texas" by C. F. Eckhardt
  •  


    Texas Escapes Online Magazine »   Archive Issues » Home »
    TEXAS TOWNS & COUNTIES TEXAS LANDMARKS & IMAGES TEXAS HISTORY & CULTURE TEXAS OUTDOORS MORE
    Texas Counties
    Texas Towns A-Z
    Texas Ghost Towns

    TEXAS REGIONS:
    Central Texas North
    Central Texas South
    Texas Gulf Coast
    Texas Panhandle
    Texas Hill Country
    East Texas
    South Texas
    West Texas

    Courthouses
    Jails
    Churches
    Schoolhouses
    Bridges
    Theaters
    Depots
    Rooms with a Past
    Monuments
    Statues

    Gas Stations
    Post Offices
    Museums
    Water Towers
    Grain Elevators
    Cotton Gins
    Lodges
    Stores
    Banks

    Vintage Photos
    Historic Trees
    Cemeteries
    Old Neon
    Ghost Signs
    Signs
    Murals
    Gargoyles
    Pitted Dates
    Cornerstones
    Then & Now

    Columns: History/Opinion
    Texas History
    Small Town Sagas
    Black History
    WWII
    Texas Centennial
    Ghosts
    People
    Animals
    Food
    Music
    Art

    Books
    Cotton
    Texas Railroads

    Texas Trips
    Texas Drives
    Texas State Parks
    Texas Rivers
    Texas Lakes
    Texas Forts
    Texas Trails
    Texas Maps
    USA
    MEXICO
    HOTELS

    Site Map
    About Us
    Privacy Statement
    Disclaimer
    Contributors
    Staff
    Contact Us

     
    Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved