Rowland working hard on restoration of Burton Building
by W. Brian Hale
Nov 12, 2010 | 1781 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. David Rowland, former chancellor of Walker College, spoke to the Rotary Club of Jasper Tuesday about the restoration of the Burton Building in downtown Jasper near the Walker County Courthouse square.

Rowland began restoration efforts on other buildings years ago following his retirement as a way to help occupy his time and give back to the community. Also present was the motivation to bring more office space to the centrally located area downtown.

“One day I had the realization that there is office space needed in Jasper,” Rowland said. “With so many of the old buildings around downtown that already have good locations established, to me it was the way to go. Since then I have restored four buildings around downtown and am working on my fifth at the Burton Building.”

Rowland’s plan for the Burton Building includes the finished product having commercial space on the first floor and office space on the second floor, with the third floor being left empty.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Jasper’s business and industrial potential grew, with coke ovens, brickyards and railroads that were connected to the town. During that time, two brothers — J.J. and C.D. Long — who were multi-business entrepreneurs built the building adjacent to the courthouse square. They sold general merchandise, farm equipment and clothing. Following a recession in 1907, the Long brothers sold the building to the Burtons, who had established a successful tannery and renamed the building the Burton Building.

Using the building to expand their production of leather items, the Burtons recognized the introduction of the automobile would change the earning potential of their business, eventually adapting their operation to produce golf bags, which turned into a very successful and well known venture.

In the 1970’s, the Burton’s moved out of the building and moved their operation to Florida. A few other business have moved into the building afterward, then the building was boarded in the 1980’s and has remained vacant since.

Rowland cites four reasons for restoring the building as he has in many of his other restoration efforts.

“I’m doing it to keep myself occupied during my retirement, to locate a building that is restorable, is restorable within reason and can get a good return and to restore downtown Jasper,” Rowland said. “This town has been good to both me and my family through the years and this is my way of giving back.”