Burns Gables on Mt. Gayler

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City/Town: Winslow
Location Class: CommercialResidential
Year Built: 1937
Year Abandoned: 2010
Status: For SaleAbandoned
Photographer: Anna Gray

Burn Gables History

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“One of the most beautiful places of its kind in the Ozarks. Located on top of the Ozarks an elevation of 2253 ft. Known for Good Southern Vittles, modern rooms, and the largest novelty shop in the Ozarks. A place for a mother, sister or sweetheart. Once you stop at this magnificent place it will always remain in your memory.”

Burns Gables, originally built by the Burns family in 1937, was originally an extravagant stone building featuring a restaurant, cabins with a gorgeous view, and a great place for memories. Unfortunately, this beautiful building burnt in 1952. Soon after, the Burns built a smaller, two story stone building to replace the old structure. Business continued until about the early 2000’s when the new interstate led to significant loss of traffic and business.

Mt. Gayler History

Edward A. Bellis Sr., his wife Stella Bellis and their son Ed Jr. came to the mountain from Ft. Worth, Texas after they lost everything in the crash of 1929. Edward bought five acres from R.D. Gayler, who had homesteaded the mountaintop south of Winslow so many years earlier. The Bellis family lived in the back of a pickup truck and a tent while they built the rock buildings and opened businesses that would grace the mountain for more than 60 years. They named the establishment after the Gaylers, who had been there since the mid 1800s.

After they came to Arkansas, Edward Sr., who was by trade a bookkeeper, laid the rocks following the plans of his wife Stella until a two-story service station, a small house behind the gift shop, an ice house, and rocked-up spaces for a multitude of flowers were completed. Over the service station was an apartment in which their son Ed Jr. would live with his wife Sue Steward. Ed Jr. and Sue had four daughters and a son they named Edward III. One of their daughters, Ruby Jo Bellis, was the only descendant who wanted the Mt. Gayler.

After I-540 was finished, the heavy traffic moved west leaving the mountainous and often dangerous Highway 71 deserted. Ed Jr., spoke in favor of that highway, stating, “It’ll ruin our business, but we can’t stand in the way of progress.”

As of 2010, Burns Gables and the tower remains closed and in need of repair.

19 Comments

  1. Family Member on

    These photos should not have been taken. They were trespassing on private property. Just because it is no longer lived in does not mean that it is abandoned.

  2. As one of the only three living family members of this property, I would love to be able to share more details of it's history. And I assure you that it's demise was not born from a lack of care or concern, but family greed, selfishness, ignorance and legal battles long ago. Please be respectful of my family legacy and do not trespass in this space again.

    • What a shame this iconic Arkansas property has been abandoned. I have restored older buildings in Fort Smith and might be interested in this one as well. I do not see how to find out about acquiring it though.

    • I was fortunate to visit this place a few years ago. My last name is Gayler which drew my interest in visiting. It appears to have been a real destination at one time. I visited the Gayler Cemetery nearby. I also visited with the current owners caretaker and was told it would be refurbished at some point. Hopefully this will come to be.

    • My name is Mary, my children and I were friends to John for many years. I always wished he could find more joy in life, but we still say hello when we pass. Feels like he's probably still there. I hope the property finds an appreciative buyer.

  3. Who ever takes the photos does these places no justice. Abandoned or not , with or without memories of the places I'm disappointed on how you showed mostly trash and not the beauty of the places

    • Mostly trash? What the hell are you talking about? So what would you do different? I've been following this group for years, and I know that their mission is to preserve these places before they are demolished. I hope that one day they can be restored. I think they're doing a good job.

  4. The number of places around the world are beautiful and well maintained the places from history are quite delighted and have research paper writing services attractive look. I pretty amazed to found the history Mount Gayler but sad to see the mass the places must be maintained and add this into historical places.

  5. Oh, my goodness – 65-70 year old memories. My father was a banker in Ft Smith and had an interest in Burns' Gables – before the fire. .About once a month we would drive there for dinner and a visit with the lady that ran the gift shop – I don't remember her name but I do remember getting SO bored as the grown-ups talked. I'd walk around and around the display in the middle of the gift shop. I also remember my mother always ordered fish because my father wouldn't allow fish in our home! I wish I had the money to restore it.

    • Thanks for sharing such a wondrerul memory! I would love to get more information from you about your father's interest in the property. I am the granddaughter of John David Burns. How can I contact you?

  6. Michael Benge on

    OMG-you're crashing my childhood memories. a couple of times a year after church on Sunday we drove up to Burn's Gables from Fort Smith for lunch (instead of going to Crane's Cafeteria downtown where I always ordered "macaroni and cheese and (cinnamon) apples". You passed Boston Mountain Lodge and Artist Point on the way. I always had to go across the street and pay the 10 or 15 cents to climb the tower. And there was a little pond with a couple of paddle boats that I never saw in use. Maybe a little train around the pond? Wonderful, tacky, kitschy souvenirs in abundance were to be had along with wonderful craft dolls-dried apple head dolls which were later mass produced, and hickory nut dolls, all different, dressed in various scraps of material crafted by locals (or so I like to think) As years passed, the hickory nut dolls were behind glass for display only. I guess old 71 to me is like Highway 66, a once great journey made obsolete by the interstates.

  7. This is an interesting photo essay of a building ON Mt Gayler. Other than a few shots of the Mt Gayler Tower from across the street this "Abandoned Arkansas" is not about Mt Gayler at all. Of the 204 photographs in this series, over 190 of them are NOT taken at the Mt Gayler Gift Shop and Tower and have little to nothing to do with the Bellis Family.. Also, quite a number of the photos are just the same pile of stuff taken from a different angle.

    • AbandonedAR Team on

      Apologies for the inaccuracy in the previous post.. We have added Burns Gables history to the article! Let us know if there is anything thing else missing. 🙂

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