Eagle Ford Road had such a bad reputation for crime and ill repute that business owners petitioned to rename it Singleton Boulevard, after a Dallas County Commissioner, in 1941.
Eagle Ford Road is obviously a cooler name, in hindsight, but that was the beginning of efforts to give West Dallas a cleaner image.
Now West Dallas has gone so far the other way that the City of Dallas Landmark Commission wants to make the Barrow filling station on Singleton a designated historic landmark, which would give it historical gravitas based on its connection to two of America’s most notorious criminals, Bonnie and Clyde.
The old filling station, on Singleton at Borger, is where the notorious Barrow family of West Dallas lived and worked. Clyde Barrow, infamous for his crime spree with Bonnie Parker, grew up in abject poverty in a shotgun house on Muncie Avenue. His dad primarily worked as a metal scrapper, and his parents pulled that house about a mile down the road by mule to its current location on Singleton. They added on to make their business, living in the back and running their service station in front.
An Oak Cliff-based developer, Brent Jackson of Oaxaca Interests, bought the property recently, because of its value as a corner property in what is now at the center of a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, with high-dollar condos and apartments just across the street. Jackson, who took heat when he tore down the old Alamo motel on Fort Worth Avenue to build Sylvan Thirty, might have to wait if he plans to redevelop it. The landmark process could take about two years, and if designated historic, he wouldn’t be able to tear it down at all without the commission’s approval.
West Dallas was home to the poorest of the poor in Dallas for decades, starting in the early 1900s when levees were built, opening up land for industrial development.
Some longtime residents of West Dallas want the building as a marker of the real old West Dallas, no matter how dark.
“This is part of the good, the bad and the ugly of West Dallas. It’s part of history,” Landmark Commission member Rosemary Hinojosa, who represents the neighborhood, said in a hearing on the matter in February.
Besides that, it’s one of very few of Clyde Barrow’s haunts that is still standing in Dallas. Another one, the Lillie McBride House a couple of blocks away, is expected to be demolished or moved soon.
Jackson, who owns the building, is taking its history into consideration. The Landmark Commission gave him 30 days to meet with neighbors about what they want for it. But he also says he wouldn’t feel right celebrating criminals who committed “heinous acts.”