Leeper / Security Building
In 1891, the Leeper Building was completed, rising to a towering five stories at the northeast corner of main and Burnett, it became Texas’ first Skyscraper. The building later became known as the Security Building because of the Security National Bank that operated on the ground floor until closed during the Depression.
This was the tallest building in North Texas. It was built by John B. Leeper and J. T. Boldrick. They employed a French architect named Pierre Lelardoux to design the structure.
Ownership through the years shuffled between various realty enterprises and at one time an auction was held on the site to sell the property. The Wolens Company bought the building in the early 1940s from a Weatherford man.
Then, on December 3, 1952, the city declared the building a danger, ordering it condemned and to be destroyed. The few remaining tenants were given notice to vacate and February 1, 1954, wreckers arrived and went to work.
Overlooking the ornately carved entrance had been an even more ornately carved head which became known as "Old Stoneface." "Old Stoneface" and the rest of the carvings are said to have been done by a colorful sculptor who hammered away artistically with his chisel between frequent breaks for visits to the neighborhood saloons.
"Old Stoneface," after looking over Main Street for more than 60 years, toppled to its face May 31, 1954. However, it got the last word by crushing the sidewalk beneath part way into the basement area below.
Stoneface first went next door to the yard of Lone Star Gas Co. When a tenant moved away to make room for a parking lot for the Gas Company, the giant stone was given to Mrs. J. E. Smith on Dripping Springs Road.
The stone continues to survey the serenity of the rural community, occasionally attracting the attention of a passing motorist or person with a camera doing research on some historical point of the area.
From Hunt and Bryant, IMAGES OF AMERICA: DENISON (Arcadia Publishing):
Edward Leeper and Thomas Boldrick, ambitious young owners of a hardware business, wanted their building at 331 West Main Street to be “the talk of Texas.” In that, architect Pierre Lelardoux succeeded. Completed in 1891, the elegant “skyscraper” drew gawkers from as far away as Dallas. Initially named for Edward Leeper, the structure later was called “the Security Building” after a short-lived tenant, Security State Bank. Before 1905, the turret and top floor were removed as “dangerously too high,” leaving “Old Stoneface” above the main entrance as the building’s chief ornament (below). While banks occupied the prominent ground-floor corner space, professionals had offices on the upper floors. Carrie Cole operated the small elevator for many years. In 1954, the building was demolished. Its granite foundation was reused for the Lilley-Linn Department Store.
Animal Contest held in the Security Building
Elaine Nall Bay