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From the Garland Local History & Genealogical Society, Volume 8-Number 2, Summer 1997

DISASTER STIRKES

Author:                Unknown

On Sunday morning, May 9, 1927 a tornado struck Garland leaving seventeen people dead and damages estimated at $75,000, which was quite a loss in those days. Twelve homes were lost and many downtown businesses damaged. Two of the seventeen people who lost their lives in the disaster were S.E. Nicholson, a former mayor, merchant and prominent citizen, and his mother Mrs. Missouri A. Nicholson.

The tornado came out of a violent thunderstorm, touched down south of town, momentarily lifted off the ground, moved north then to the east, thrashing several blocks of homes located just west of the square. The funnel then lifted a second time coming back down into the square and on out of town following the Santa Fe railroad tracks.

There are those still with us in 1997 who can still remember details of the disaster. Here is a story that Clifton Hardy Tucker recounted to me:

“The old Buchanan home was at the time located on the northwest corner of Glenbrook Drive and Austin Street where the TP&L parking lot is now. There was a cotton gin at the corner of Walnut and Glenbrook. During the tornado, a solid oak beam (eighteen to twenty-four inches square, and ten foot long; a support beam to the bail compressor), broke loose from the gin stand and was thrown through the roof of the Buchanan home, went through the floor and lodged itself in the dirt below the foundation. There was no way the beam could be removed from where it was because it was so deep in the ground, so they just went below the floor and cut it off level with the ground. Fortunately, everyone was in the storm cellar at the time.”

W.R. Nicholson of Longview Texas, brother of S.E. Nicholson who died as a result of the tornado, wanted to create a memorial to his brother, his mother and the other persons who had lost their lives in the tornado. As a result, he purchased the former Citizen’s National Bank building with certain ideas of his own which was also a benefit to the City of Garland and resulted in the establishment of Garland’s first and only library.

Mr. Nicholson had the building remodeled to contain city offices, a library room and rental offices on the first floor with a large auditorium and kitchen on the second floor for club and public meetings. The only stipulation attached was that the building always be used “perpetually for community purposes”. That fact still being true to this very day.