On the 27th of September, the Byars Building will be opened to the public for a showing of antiques that women and men used in the 1800 and early 1900 hundreds. The Byars Building has long been known to locals as the Telephone Building because it was used from 1919 to 1951 as the telephone office in Blanco.
The building was constructed by J.W. Speer in 1871. Mr. Speer operated a general store in the building according to tax rolls. They also indicate that the store changed ownership around 1911 and that T.J. Alexander and B.W. Palmer operated the general store after the sale.
In 1919, the telephone company purchased the building and modified it by putting in a switchboard, with Mrs. Selma Olfers and her daughters, Edna and Freda being the first operators. Blanco County now had phone service in the south end of the county.
In 1923, Mrs. Sibbie Byars along with daughters Ruby, Pearl and son, Roy took over the operation of the switchboard for the Willow City Telephone Company. Sibbie and her daughters worked the switchboards until 1951, when dial telephones were introduced to the area and the central switchboard moved to Johnson City.
In 1951, the family moved in and made this their home and it was the beginning of the “ Byars Building”. The Byars family maintained and restored the property over the years, retaining its historical significance. The exterior siding is clap board and the original rock porch still greets visitors. Many of the interior features have also been preserved. The closet that once was a telephone booth where Blanconians made calls still stands proud.
The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Currently the building is owned by the City of Blanco.
There will be displays of historical antiques in the Byars Building on September 27th from 10:00a.m. until 6:00p.m. If you have some items you would like to loan for inclusion in this display, please call or bring them to the Byars Building on September 25th. We also need people who are interested in helping with setting up the display and staffing for September 27th. For further information, please call Linda Howard at 833-4871 or Nell Krueger at 833—5774.