the most infamous warehouse in modern history – Fiction Friday – If Walls Could Talk


the most infamous warehouse in modern history – Fiction Friday – If Walls Could Talk

I am probably the most infamous warehouse in modern history. Yet, most people don’t think of me as a warehouse.

I was an assassin’s perch.

I wrote this passage almost a year ago during NaNoWriMo and do not have reliable notes on where I picked up the information.  I did lay quotes around those parts I know are lifted.

I look much as I did the day a man with three names and a skewed since of reality climbed the steps with his bulky package and set up to shoot the president of the United States.

The Texas School Book Depository building still appears much as it did the day of the assassination, although the famous Hertz time-temperature sign on the roof and the northwest stairway — used by Oswald after the shooting — are in storage. There’s little outward indication that an acclaimed world-class museum that draws a half-million visitors a year exists on the building’s sixth-floor.
The founder of the city was John Neely Bryan. He claimed the land under me in 1841. Then in 49 he sold me to a man named George and a woman Named Mary. A house and quarters for George and Mary’s slaves stood here in my stead.
For a while I was a boarding house. Then the building that was here was flattened and leveled to bring the rail road through here.

I was sold for nine thousand dollars when I was a boarding house and became a five story brick structure for the Rock Island Plow Company that originated in Illinois.

In 1901 the Rock Island Plow Company was struck by lightening, maybe even then the immortals and time travelers were trying to change history.

The lightening strike nearly burned the brick building to the ground, something the little brick guy who recently spoke said was difficult to do. I was a bit more complicated inside than a simple enclosure to protect three pigs from the huffing and puffing.

“The site of the infamous structure was included in city founder John Neely Bryan’s 1841 land claim. In 1849, Bryan sold the lot to George and Mary Braird, who built a house and quarters for their slaves. When the Brairds outgrew their home and moved, their primary house was operated as a boarding residence. Beginning 1882, most buildings and fences on the block were razed and fill added to level the grade for railroad lines.
In 1894, the 411 Elm property was sold for $9,000 to Phil L. Mitchell, President and Director of the Rock Island Plow Company, a farm equipment company headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois. Four years later, the company built a five-story brick structure. Struck by lightning and burnt on May 4, 1901, it was replaced the same year by the present-day structure, destined to become the most infamous commercial building in America.”

In 1909, title was turned over to the Southern Rock Island Plow Company, who continued to sell farm equipment out of the building. In 1937, it was sold to the Carraway Byrd Corporation. On July 4, 1939, oil tycoon Colonel D. Harold Byrd purchased the building at public auction.

Rock Island sold farm equipment until 1937 when the building changed hands again and was bought by an oil man. Texas oil, black gold. It was actually sold at public auction.
I had been rebuilt to my present state of being by people who would become famous in their own right. Who hasn’t heard of Colonel Byrd?
The building remained vacant until 1940, when the John Sexton Co. leased it. The grocery wholesaler, who catered primarily to restaurants and institutions, opened its first Dallas branch office and warehouse on January 1, 1941.
“About every two weeks, bulk grocery supplies (usually canned goods) would come in by rail and be transferred to the building by carts and the two freight elevators at the building’s rear. The building, which displayed the company’s name in large letters just above the sixth floor, became familiar locally as the Sexton Building. The structure would be described that way in some early police reports, even though Sexton had left the building on November 1961 for a modern single-story facility.
A grocery wholesaler took over the warehouse and about every two weeks canned goods would come in by rail. The Sexton Building is what I came to be known as. I think many people did not know or remember when I was a slave quarters and a boarding house. I am sure being struck by lightning was a memorable event, though.
The Sexton folks renovated me and put in partitions, carpeting, air conditioning and set up four floors of offices.
In 1927 after a new passenger elevator that ran only to the fourth floor was in the Texas School Book Depository began putting stock in the basement first floor and the fourth through seventh floors. The Second, and Third floors were not used for storing text books.
When the horrible event took place there were 33 workers here. They used a parking area where the man with three names would park and carry his weapon up to the fifth floor. They parked a few blocks north.
The upper floors were pretty much ruined by oil that leaked out form the Sexton days and the manager began to have ply wood sheets laid down on the upper floors to keep the cardboard boxes away from the oil. The stock was being shifted from one side to the other while the floor was being laid.” – Not sure of my Source..
In 1970, the Texas School Book Depository vacated both its downtown warehouses, moving to a location in northwest Dallas. The Depository’s owner, Colonel Byrd, then sold the building at auction to Aubrey Mayhew, a Nashville music promoter and Kennedy memorabilia collector.
I was pretty much saved by the weirdness of people. A Nashville music promoter who had a thing for all things a Kennedy bought me from the famous Colonel Byrd.

Now, my fifth floor sees millions of tourists every year and is a memorial to assassination of all kinds. There were live web cam shots from the window the man with three names used. They called it images from the Sniper’s Nest.

I really don’t like my status. I am tired and old and remembered for the wrong thing. But I fear I’ll be here until the next lightening strike or fire burns me beyond survival. Then of course they will build a park here. I can not escape my own history, so I guess I will just be. I’ll be for the time it takes humanity to forget.

I am a warehouse. My wares are very questionable. There is actually an entry fee on memories.



By Sally

Sally Franklin Christie Blogger and Author of If I Should Die and Milk Carton People.