Gunsmoke Front Page







Friday, August 22, 1997


By Mike Berry,, The Wichita Eagle


BURRTON - Some people will remember the quaint turn-of-the-century house a block off Burrton's main street as Grandma's House, a home-style fried chicken restaurant that packed in weekend diners fi-om as far away as Wichita during its brief heyday.


Others will recall the house as the site of the town's first telephone company, when many people who didn't have their own phones would slip inside the indoor phone booth to experience the thrill of placing a long-distance call.


But the house's real claim to fame is that old Doc Adams spent his high school years there.


Not the town doctor, but Milburn Stone, who played the cranky but lovable curmudgeon Galen Adams opposite James Arness' Matt Dillon for 20 years on "Gunsmoke".


All of that history will be up for sale to the highest bidder Saturday as the house, restaurant and even some old telephone company equipment goes on the auction block.


Harry Andrest, former co-owner of the now defunct Grandma's House restaurant, said Stone lived there between 1918 and 1923. Stone's mother was the phone operator, and he occasionally would work the switchboard.


Andrest and his wife, Violet, bought the old home more than 10 years ago and lived in it until about a year ago, when they remodeled it into a restaurant. The house was in pretty bad shape when they purchased it, Andrest said.



He built a full-length porch along the front of the house to replace one that had burned years ago. The couple installed deep-fat chicken fryers, a cooking hood with fire extinguisher system, and a walk-in cooler and outfitted the various rooms as dining room.


Andrest found an antique telephone switchboard like the one Milburn Stone once used and placed it in the northwest dining room, near the old phone booth.


"That's the original phone booth in Burrton," he said, demonstrating how the light in the phone booth still comes on automatically when the door is closed.



"This was kind of a gathering place here in town... all the news came through here." said Andrest, who said the phone company office also one housed a teletype that clattered out news flashes.


Stone, a Burrton native who appeared in every school play staged while he was there, left his hometown for good with a traveling troupe of performers after graduating from high school.


Andrest said Stone's later television fame helped draw restaurant customers who grew up watching "Gunsmnoke" and knew of his connection to Burrton, about 40 miles northwest of Wichita.


But the Andrests separated recently and Stone's former home will be sold, along with the Andrest house across the street and several vacant lots, as part of their divorce proceedings.


Andrest hopes whoever buys the property will consider reopening it as a restaurant. He said he still receives phone calls requesting dining reservations.


"I think there's a real business opportunity here", he said.

The Wichita Eagle

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