Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture


The angled entrance of this building tied it to the intersection of two cross streets, thus increasing its visibility and prominence.  One might infer from the placement that it was one of the principal commercial buildings at the time of its construction.  The corner facade is further reinforced by an arch over the door and brickwork on the cornice built up to simulate a pediment.  It’s curious, but effective.  The front facade featured two paired windows with minimal embellishment.  This building is reminiscent of many commercial buildings of the Late-Nineteenth Century in Texas.

Lyons is on State Highway 36 two miles from Lake Somerville in south central Burleson County.  When the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway built its main line through Burleson County in 1880, a construction workers’ camp, known as Camp Pennington, was established near what is now the site of Lyons.   Saloons, established near the camp to serve the railroad workers, soon formed the basis for a small railroad community.  Early settler W. A. Lyon gave fifty acres of land to the railroad for a right-of-way and established the first general store near the settlement.  It was first called Lyon’s Station but later became known as Lyons.  It soon became the trading center for outlying communities and at one time was the second largest town in the county.  Cattle, cotton, and cottonseed were regularly shipped by rail from the town.  Businesses included a cotton warehouse, an oil mill, a millinery shop, a drugstore, a hotel, four general stores, three cotton gins, and several blacksmith shops, livery stables, and photo galleries.  By 1890 the community had a population of 150, and in 1897 it had a newspaper, the Weekly Ledger; later it had the Lyons Enterprise.  A post office was established at the community in 1886.  Around that time the first school was built.  In 1887 a Methodist church was organized at Lyons.  There was also a Masonic lodge; its building was used by the entire community for civic functions.  The First State Bank was established in 1910 but was liquidated in 1938.  By 1934 Lyons had an independent school district and a two-story brick school building.   However, the school was merged with the Somerville Independent School District in 1948.  In 1990 Lyons, with a population of 360, had its own water system, three grocery stores, several antique shops, a car wash, an auto body shop, and a post office.  At that time the Home Demonstration Club was active and owned its own building.  There were also four churches in the community.  The site of Lyons is located above the Austin Chalk Formation in Burleson County; consequently, there are many oil wells and several oil-related industries in the area.

REFERENCES:  Catherine G. Alford and Mrs. Allen Rhodes, “LYONS, TX (BURLESON COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (  Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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