An Old Western town in Texas which features period buildings salvaged from across the county is now facing demolition after the site’s owners announced plans to sell up to a property developer.
The 80-acre Storybook Ranch property in McKinney, Texas — just north of Plano — looks like something out of a movie, and features a jail, saloon, opry house, apothecary and a barber shop.
The town’s bank even featuring a vault which the owners claim was once broken into by Bonnie and Clyde.
The 21 buildings all date back to when the west was first settled in the 1800s, and were carefully relocated to the ranch from western states in the 1950s.
But they are now in danger of becoming demolished as the organization that ran the Old Western town — River Ranch Educational Charities — has moved to Dallas, and is planning to sell the land to a developer who hopes to build homes on the property.
But local Kristi Avalos is now leading efforts to save the buildings.
The Storybook Ranch in McKinney, Texas features 21 buildings, all dating back to when the western United States was first settled. The buildings were brought to the property from throughout the western U.S.
The Old Western town is currently sitting on an 80-acre property, but it is in danger of being demolished, as the organization that ran the town has moved and wants to sell it to a developer
A bank on the property, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, includes a vault that the notorious thieves Bonnie and Clyde allegedly broke into
There is only one cell in the jail, which is attached to the marshall’s house.
She has started a nonprofit, the Bethel Village Foundation, aimed at restoring and relocating the Old Western town to her ranch even further north, on the border of Van Alstyne and Whitewright.
An old newspaper article inside the bank at Storybook Ranch indicates that notorious thieves Bonnie and Clyde once stole from the bank vault.
‘They cannot bulldoze this down,’ Avalos, owner of an 82-acre ranch in the area called the Bethel Cannon Ranch, told NBC DFW 5. ‘We just have to do something.’
She has spoken to representatives from the local governments about her idea, according to her organization’s website, and is hoping to raise enough money by June to make her dream of revitalizing the Old Western town come true.
‘There was something about seeing these buildings that was like, ‘We can do this,’ Avalos recounted to NBC DFW 5. ‘I can’t do this, but we can do this.’
Avalos already runs a nonprofit on her ranch aimed at helping people prepare for new careers.
‘I’m all about taking people and restoring hope in that, so why not take buildings and restore hope in them,’ she said, explaining on the Bethel Village Foundation’s website that she saw a parallel between restoring the buildings and helping people get back on their feet.
‘We all used to be something,’ she wrote on the website. ‘Now we’re something else, but we may not have seen the best of ourselves just yet.’
Each of the 21 buildings at the Storybook ranch date back to the 1800s, and were handpicked by a man named Jim Miller, who tracked them down from Alaska to Tennessee, and brought them back to the Storybook Ranch in the 1950s.
The two-story opry house can seat 250 people, and is heated and air conditioned for events
The property includes a saloon and hotel from Flagstaff, Arizona, which were open 24/7
The Waddle In, Waddle Out Saloon from Flagstaff, Arizona sat only about 30 to 40 people, who would gather at the time to lay cards or listen to the music from a player piano
People would leave their horses at the livery while they shopped in town, including at the feed store, where they would get plant food and feed for their animals
Kristi Avalos, owner of the Bethel Cannon Ranch, hopes to preserve the Old Western town as it is
Eventually, however, the town of McKinney grew around the ranch, limiting its growth potential.
It now features a livery stable from Brownsville, Texas; a two-story opry house built in 1851 in San Francisco; a hotel and saloon from Flagstaff, Arizona; an apothecary from Alaska; and a post office from North Dakota.
The bank was brought in from St. Louis, Missouri and dates back to the 1860s. It features a newspaper article on the wall indicating that Bonnie and Clyde, the notorious thieves of the time, broke into the vault.
Other buildings include a one-room jail, a barbershop that doubled as a dental office, and a general store that was still operational through 1952.
The property has been owned and operated by River Ranch Educational Charities, which provides programs for low-income and at-risk youth, as well as for those with special needs, for the past 25 years, during which time, it hosted numerous parties, gatherings, events, weddings and picnics.
Each of the 21 buildings at the Storybook ranch date back to the 1800s and were carefully relocated to the ranch in the 1950s
The property has been owned and operated by River Ranch Educational Charities, which provides programs for low-income and at-risk youth
The town of McKinney eventually grew around the ranch, limiting its growth potential
The 80-acre Storybook Ranch property in McKinney, Texas — just north of Plano — looks like something out of a movie
In 2013, the ranch lost one of its buildings — The Wild Bill’s/Calamity Jane’s entertainment pavilion — in a fire, and the property has since been damaged in floods and extreme weather.
In January, the Facebook page for the ranch posted that it was temporarily closed ‘due to Covid concerns and for property development, repairs, and changes.’
But the organization has since moved to Dallas, Avalos said, and left the property alone for several months.
She now hopes to host events at the two-story opry house, which has a capacity of 250 people and features heating and air conditioning, and will use the property to teach more people vocational skills and host educational field trips.