Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Old Bushnell Bar building demolished Saturday


John Verser

The front of this old building last used as a warehouse in downtown Bushnell collapses Saturday morning as crews worked to tear it down. That building and the old Bushnell Bar next to it were razed after village officials deemed them unsafe.

Wilma Lockwood-Sigette has fond memories of the old Bushnell Bar building.

Wilma's mother, Virginia Haywood, operated a cafe there many years before it was a bar. Now the building is gone.

The old Bushnell Bar and the old warehouse building next to it were torn down Saturday, after the Village of Bushnell deemed them unsafe. They have been unoccupied for at least a couple decades.

Wilma, who will turn 86 in July, moved to Bushnell from Pennsylvania with her family when she was a baby. She has lived in town ever since.

When her family first moved to town, they lived across the street from the bar building with her great uncle, William Haywood. He owned a hardware store in town.

Her family moved across the street when she was 11, next door to the bar building where her mother would later open a cafe.

"We lived in that building that has been torn down (years ago). It was my dad's garage and hardware, and we lived above it," she said. "And my great uncle had, between this building and the post office and that one, he had a hardware store and we lived with him when we first moved here, when I was a baby. It was William Haywood's Hardware. I've been here all my life."

Wilma was married with children when her mother opened Ginny's Cafe in what would later become the bar. Virginia Haywood ran the cafe there for 8-10 years.

"We had relatives, family, come out from Pennsylvania and work and turn the building into a cafe for my mother," she said. "And then other people have owned it since she did. That was a long time ago, because she passed away 20 years ago."

The octogenarian waited tables in the cafe for about three and a half years while the cafe was open.

"It was fun," Wilma said. "My kids liked to go there and eat, and people especially liked her homemade pies. And the school kids, some of them, instead of eating lunch at school would come down and eat her hot beef sandwiches - my sons included."

On Saturday morning, Wilma also pointed out many of the old businesses that once dotted the downtown area. She pointed out buildings that once housed hardware stores and a newspaper, just across the street from the old bar building.

"Some people named Easton lived there and they owned the Bushnell Record newspaper when I was growing up," she said.

John Verser

Crews work to push the two torn down buildings into the former basement of the old Bushnell Bar in the downtown area on Saturday morning.

The town also had a drug store, bank, dentist office, telephone office, hospital and multiple lumber yards.

"We had a lot of businesses here. At one time we had three lumberyards. We had all the elevators. They've been torn down," she said.

The garage which Wilma's father once owned, and in which Wilma grew up in the area above it, has also been gone a long time.

"That would be over 20 years ago that they took it down," she said. "They thought it was a hazard, like this one."

Many Bushnell residents dotted the sidewalks and roads on the chilly Saturday morning as they watched the building come down, piece by piece.

Although the building was unsafe, it was still somewhat difficult for Wilma to see another building with so much family history and a lot of good memories come down.

"It's bothering me. It's hard, especially this," Wilma said.


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