AUSTIN, Texas—The Texas Historical Foundation, a 64-year old preservation organization, has announced a grant to the Linden Heritage Foundation. THF board member Hank Seale recently presented the check to LHF President Joe Lovelace.
Established 2015, the Linden Heritage Foundation is the only nonprofit organization in Cass County for the protection and promotion of cultural resources and the adaptive use of local historic sites as tools for cultural enrichment and economic development. The donation will provide funds to assist in professional preservation planning services to restore the 1939 Linden Firehouse in a way that retains the structure’s National Register of Historic Places eligibility.
The Linden Heritage Foundation is working with Mark Thacker, AIA, who is preparing Plans & Specifications (P&S) for rehabilitation of the Old Linden Firehouse to a Period of Significance 1939-1961.
Lovelace said, “A unique fact about the Old Linden Firehouse is that it did the most of any other structure during its life of service to protect the other heritage assets of the town of Linden – and to answer calls to other cities in our region.”
Final P&S must conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and be approved by the Texas Historical Commission, a primary grant funder.
THF President Bruce Elsom said, “The Texas Historical Foundation is committed to preserving and protecting Texas history, and we understand that resources are particularly scarce in small communities. That makes THF especially proud to partner with this town of only 2,000 inhabitants to help save this important icon.”
Since 1954, the Texas Historical Foundation has supported preservation and education projects around the state. The group’s main efforts include its award-winning Texas HERITAGE magazine and a preservation grants program. For more information, or to join the Foundation, use the on-line membership form found on the organization’s website, www.texashistoricalfoundation.org.
Artwork was recently unveiled at the old Linden ice house at the corner of Houston and Smithland. After an introduction by Barbara Teachey, a Linden Heritage Foundation Board member living in Richmond, Virginia, building owner Sue Morris Lazara collaborated with Chad Buice—a schoolteacher, artist, and musician living near Atlanta, Georgia—to create and paint panels on the ice house and the adjacent Sweet Shop facade. Barbara and Chad are both avid Don Henley fans.
Ice production began in Linden at a time when residents did not have electrical refrigeration. Established in 1937, this ice house was the second ice production plant in Linden. An earlier and smaller capacity plant was located along the railroad tracks in the building later known as the Claude Hall Machine Shop (301 W. Rush).
This quadrant of town was Linden’s industrial/warehouse district. It had the 1911 railroad depot, the 1913 electric gin, the c.1920 (?) ice plant, a Gulf Oil warehouse (now restored as a residence across from Dollar General), at least two cotton gins, and the sawmill of R. A. Morse (later the George Morse Lumber Company). R. A. Morse built the 1939 Firehouse.
Both of the Linden ice plants used hollow clay tile walls because they are self-insulating. The double-air chambers, encased by the structural tile, is what keeps things cool on the interior. This is why hollow clay tile is used so extensively in the southwest states and Mexico for residential and commercial construction.
Prior to WWI, few small towns had local ice production. They were lucky to have access to summer ice by railroad, which was a luxury. In the 1920s and 1930s, communities were finally getting ice service by a network of ice plants to cool the “ice boxes” on the family back porch.
The Linden Ice Co. had a route for ice delivery and wagons (later trucks) that ran constantly with a bed of ice covered by heavy canvas tarps. The frequency of delivery was stepped up in warm months.
The “ice boxes” on residential back porches were cooled by inserting a 50-pound block of ice into the hatch on top where it cooled an insulated chamber below. The ice melt was collected in a pan beneath the unit. People also drove to the plant to purchase block ice or crushed ice for picnics, parties, and other gatherings. Snow cones were sold on the premises in summer. Every family had an ice pick to chip ice from their purchased blocks into the right size for summer tea and lemonade. It was only after WWII that most people in East Texas added compressor refrigeration to their homes and, even then, the ice plant remained economically viable for many decades.
Sue Lazara recalled, “In each ‘freezing’ cycle, thousands of pounds of ice were produced. The brine bath had propellers to keep the cold water circulating around each of 100 vats, with each vat holding 300 pounds of ice. A network of pipes ran through the brine bath, part of a closed loop ammonia system that circulated the coolant through the brine and then up to the cooling tower in back.”
The concrete cooling tower pedestal remains in place, although the tower is gone. The tower was like a tall wooden structure with four sloping sides of wooden shutters to allow air circulation while keeping warm rays of the sun away from the cooling pipes. Naturally it was more efficient to produce ice in cold and cloudy weather, so production continued over the winter months with the manufactured ice stored in an “ice vault” for later.
To set the freezing vats into the brine, and to remove them after freezing, there was a hoist on a grid that could move to any position over the brine tank. When the vats were fully frozen, the hoist would lift each vat out and transfer it to the side deck. The freezing container was then hosed down to release the big block of ice, which was like a giant popsicle of solid ice to be stored in the vault until being sold to a customer.
When taken out of the vault to be sold, a 300-pound block of ice was passed through an electric-powered scoring machine (as shown in Chad’s window art). After a good scoring, a worker could separate the ice into 50-pound blocks with a sharp rap on the block with a hammer or other instrument.
On August 5, 1937, the Cass County Sun published an article titled “Linden Ice Co. Making Ice Cream,” which said: The Linden Ice Co. has installed ice cream making equipment and is now making ice cream for the wholesale and retail trade. We were graciously offered a sample of the cream made Monday and must say it was as good as any we ever aet [sic]. The company has also opened up a ice cream parlor in connection with their Ice business, where you can buy ice cream in any quantity from one serving to a car load.
On August 15, 1940 the Cass County Sun reported that the Linden Ice Co. was selling 8 different flavors of ice cream. Two flavors mentioned were peppermint flakes and peach.
In the 1940s, Custer and Rosie Wynn, along with their son Gene, assisted Mr. Richey in the operation of the Linden Ice Co.
The Sweet Shop occupied the east side of the building, selling ice cream, candy, sodas, burgers, and other goodies. Rosie Wynn operated the Sweet Shop, also known as “The Tiger’s Den,” a favorite hangout for students of the Linden schools.
Meanwhile, Lester Wynn, another son, rented a room and lived in Jefferson in the summer of 1948, driving an ice truck for the ice house there, delivering ice to homes and businesses. His work day began by removing the number of 300-pound blocks required to complete his route, running them through the scoring machine, loading them onto the truck, covering the ice with a tarp, and departing. He recalled that the Jefferson ice-scoring machine was different than the Linden machine, as it was much larger. The Linden machine required running the block through twice, once upright and once on its side. He had to manually lay the block down using tongs. The Jefferson machine only required that he start the block on its side. It then scored the block and the sides. It came out of the machine near the truck. He used an ice pick in the scored area to break it apart. This required going back and forth across the area several times but the ice broke straight. He did his job while making arrangements to enter the U. S. Navy. He was sworn in November 29, 1948.
In December 1955, C. E. Bell acquired the property and operated the ice house. There were several subsequent owners of the property: John D. Harris, Charles Cox, and Leonard Boney.
At some point in the 1980s, the roof of the Linden ice house failed. Perhaps in construction or in later repairs, the scuppers of the low-slope roof had been roofed over , blocking proper water evacuation, and which began to pool on top.
Eventually there was a breach in the roofing layers and the pooling water began to penetrate by force of gravity.
The seriousness of this water situation was not immediately apparent, because there was a second ceiling below the upper one; 18” of sawdust was packed between the two ceilings as insulation. This was done to keep the ice vault cool and to more efficiently hold ice produced over the winter from melting so it could be sold the following summer.
Roofs are typically the point of greatest heat transfer into buildings. Sawdust as insulating material was readily available in a sawmill region such as Linden.
After the roof breach, water began to penetrate and the sawdust soaked up more and more of the seeping water. The wet sawdust then began not only to rot the structural joists but also to dramatically increase the overhead weight load on the trussing of the building. With the sawdust acting as a sponge, water distributed across the entire roof destroying all the joists, even where there was no leak directly overhead. After years of this type of water penetration, the structure could not hold and the ceiling collapsed, along with most of the trussing.
The damage was done, no repairs were made, and operations ceased.
In 2002, Sue Lazara purchased the property from Leonard Boney, cleared the collapsed ceiling, and moved interesting equipment off site for eventual rehabilitation of the buildings. The lot in rear was acquired and cleared, including a derelict structure, to give the ice house property future parking and expansion space along the full depth of Smithland Street.
In 2017, Chad Buice visited Linden and expressed interest in an art project. Chad and Sue struck a deal to share project responsibility, with Chad as designer-in-chief. In gratitude, Sue says, “Chad has been perfectly wonderful to work with and the hearts of the entire Wiley/Morris/Lazara family are warmed by his tribute to our beloved Charley and Becky.”
This summer, 2018, Chad will return to put some final artwork on the building.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt, operated nationwide between 1933 and 1942. It provided outdoor employment for 2.5 million young men working out of nearly 3,000 camps. The camps of 200 men each were supervised by the United States Army and the work projects by the departments of Agriculture and Interior, in cooperation with the state. At individual camps the CCC hired LEMs (“locally experienced men”) to work as craftsmen and teachers, and professional architects and engineers to provide design assistance and construction supervision to enrollees. To be an enrollee, a young man was required to be seventeen to twenty-five years of age and from a family on relief. At its peak in Texas the CCC operated camps with a capacity of 19,200 men. Assignment to states was random, so workers in Texas came from all over the country. (Texas Historical Commission)
The origin of the CCC Camp 1814 in Linden dates to 1937. On October 14, 1939 the camp was transferred to Arizona with its headquarters in Linden being abandoned.
County Judge Sam L. Henderson wrote of his high regard for the CCC Camp in a history that appeared in the Cass County Sun.
“Its major objectives were to give jobs to hundreds of thousands of discouraged and undernourished young men, idle through no fault of their own.”
“Since being in Linden, the CCC Company 1814 has made remarkable progress in every department. The camp grounds have been landscaped and beautiful flowers and grass are now flourishing on what used to be a common sand hill. The camp buildings have been built with beautiful pine lumber. Since the inception of this company, over 1,500 men have gone through its ranks, the majority leaving camp with specialized vocational training.”
The Linden Heritage Foundation asks for your help in telling your story of anyone in your family who served in the Linden CCC Camp 1814.
For example, my cousin, Pennie McKeller, relates the following:
“My father, Eugene (Jeep) McKeller, a native of Waco, was employed in the camp as a project assistant. My mother (Johnie Lewis Lovelace) met my father in 1939. The boys were just outside Linden where they were repairing roads. On Saturday night there was a dance at the camp. Girls from Linden attended the dances. I remember mother telling me she didn’t wear high heels to the dances because she was taller than most of the boys including my father! They began a courtship and married in 1939. Dad was deployed to the Navy during WWII and mother worked at the ammunition plant in Texarkana. After the war dad began his garage work in Linden and they started a family. Paul Stephen was born in September of 1946. Susan came along shortly after but died in June of 1957. I was born in 1958. By the time I reached the age of 9 or 10, I was going to Groveton, Texas for CCC reunions. I played the piano for entertainment, mainly church hymns. Jimmy Dickie played the guitar and sang. We ate and prayed together for the health and safety of all the guys who lived through the war. It was there I saw my first movie – Bonnie and Clyde! I continued going to the reunions until age 16. Dad continued to go and kept up with all the guys. As they got older and passed away the reunions were few and farther between. Those men meant so much to him. He loved Linden and felt fortunate to be accepted by the Lovelace family.”
We know men like Jeep were transferred to the camp from all over the country. Many stayed, married, raised their kids and contributed to the historical fabric of our community.
If members of your family met at the Camp, post your comments in response to this article on the Website. If you have photos paste them on the Linden Heritage Foundation Facebook page under this article with identifying information.
One of my friends once said to me–”It’s as if you had already been there before”. She was referring to Linden. According to my recent AncestryDNA results, there are indications that my ancestors traveled from Virginia, across Tennessee, and into Northeast Texas in the 1800s.
In the early 1970’s, when Eagles music first hit the airwaves, I was living on a street named Linden Avenue in Richmond VA. Approximately 40 years later, in September 2014, I found myself in Boston as the surprised winner of Don Henley’s Walden Woods Sweepstakes. I had become quite a fan of his music over the years and had much admiration for his environmental dedication, so I was elated to be able to attend this special event.
One year later, I was invited on a trip to Texas by friends that I had met through an unofficial Don Henley fan group on Facebook. It sounded like a fun adventure, and I’d get to finally meet my British friends and visit Don’s hometown with them, so I jumped at the chance! We stretched our 10 days of travel throughout East Texas–Dallas, Jefferson, Caddo Lake, and finally on to Linden.
The first thing I noticed was how welcoming everyone was upon our arrival. We were treated to a guided tour of the town and then invited to attend a pep rally and football game (a new experience for my friends) at Linden-Kildare, Don’s high school alma mater. On our final night in town, we enjoyed a pre-planned JD Souther show at the beautiful Music City Texas Theater.
On our flights back to our homes, we were overwhelmed by our unforgettable trip–seeing where our favorite musician had grown up and had his start, becoming acquainted with some of his childhood friends, and establishing special friendships that would ultimately last a lifetime. Sadly, my very first Linden friend has since passed. I think I left my heart behind the day I left Linden and never imagined, at the time, that I would ever see “her” (Linden) again.
Not long after our trip was over, a quartet of Linden natives decided it was time to come together for the good of their town and work on preserving the culture, the history, and the architecture; thus, the formation of the Linden Heritage Foundation. After the new year began in 2016, I received a call from one of the founding members asking if I would accept a nomination to the board. To this day, I’m still not sure how it came about, and I’ll have to admit I was a little apprehensive at first. This would be a new and unfamiliar endeavor for me, but one I felt I couldn’t possibly turn down. So I agreed and was elected on January 23, 2016. I’ve since come to the realization that it was one of the best days of my life!
I think back to the first time I saw Linden–she was looking a little breathless and “undressed”. She already had several really nice pieces of jewelry, but there were some that were pretty tarnished and needed a good cleaning and freshening up. The eye-catcher, of course, was that beautiful crown (the courthouse) that was already in place and sitting at the center of everything.
Her emotions, I believe, have always been there within her townspeople. The Foundation board members have been working diligently to get the ball rolling. With everyone’s help, I’m betting we can get her ready for more visitors so that she can flourish once again. It’s already begun with the beautiful new “accents” that have recently been added.
I’ve been back many times since my first visit; Linden has become my home away from home. I’ll keep returning to visit my ”family”, and I plan to stay with the Foundation to participate in the preservation activities for as long as I’m able and they’ll have me. This is the best way I know to pay homage to those who were there before me and to the person who has touched my life with his music and in so many other ways.
There is still much more work to be done–dusting and polishing and restoring of the good parts, then a little CPR, some dressing up, and finally adding some jewels here and there so that she looks her best–the top of the line of Small Town America. In the end, she’ll be a beautiful lady fit for a King.