This Queen Anne-styled building at 2313 East 55th Street in Cleveland, Ohio was not only a residence, but home to several businesses and murders.

Friendship Baptist Church Pastorium

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, 2313 East 55th was the headquarters of the Burden Syrup Company, founded by Everett Burden in 1935.3 The company manufactured Dalo fruit drinks and Burden syrups 4 8 before being sold to the Ashley Distributing Company in 1976.

The storefront later housed the Shrimp Boat, a barbecue and seafood fast-food restaurant that opened around 1967. Its location was in a neighborhood that was in steep decline both demographically and economically. The corner of Central and East 55th, the area was known more for its drugs and shootings more than for its cuisine.

On September 8, 1970, Robert L. Weakley was shot by a security guard at the Shrimp Boat after Weakley had threatened to kill the guard in an attempted robbery.1 The guard was questioned and released as the shooting was ruled justified.

In another murder, Derrick Evans, 16, shot Angus Berry, 18, after an attempted robbery on January 20, 1975.2 Evans had confronted Berry and two others who were on their way to East Tech High School that morning and ordered them to put any money into their coat pockets and to remove their coats. After Berry motioned with his hands, Evans shot him with a .25-caliber automatic pistol. Evans had earlier robbed a poor woman of a coat and food stamps. He was convicted of murder in a trial that concluded on June 7, and was sentenced to 15 years to life. In addition, he received four to 25 years for the aggravated robbery.

2313 East 55th St Cleveland Ohio

A January 22, 1975 photograph by Tony Tomsic, sourced from Cleveland State University’s Michael Schwartz Library Special Collections.

Finally, on May 7, 1983, two-time killer J.D. Scott, 34, shot and killed Alexander Ralph Jones, 44, a security guard at the Shrimp Boat.5 Scott had been sentenced to death in 1984 for the May 6, 1983 killing of an elderly storeowner at a delicatessen. The murder of Jones only added a second death sentence.6 On appeal in 2001, his sentence was reduced to life with parole after 30-years imprisonment due to his diagnosis as a schizophrenic.7 He was executed on June 14, 2001.

The property was sold to Paul Arnold in February 1983 and was foreclosed in October 2009. The lot sold at a sheriff’s sale in April 2010.

[stag_toggle style=”normal” title=”Sources” state=”closed”]
  1. “Killing of Youth Held Justifiable.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 10 Sept. 1970: 1E. Print.
  2. “Youth pleads guilty, sentenced in murder of teen, robbery.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 7 June 1975: 10C. Print.
  3. “Everett Burden.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 13 July 1969: 4Z. Print.
  4. “Hattie Wilson Burden, helped husband start punch, syrup firm.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 20 June 1980: 9C. Print.
  5. Sullivan, Elizabeth. “Murderer Scott pleads for life.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 9 Oct. 1986: 8B. Print.
  6. Sullivan, Elizabeth. “Killer Scott is Sentenced to chair again.” Plain Dealer [Cleveland] 25 Oct. 1986: B1. Print.
  7. Delfino, Michelangelo, and Mary E. Day. “Jay Williams Scott.” Death Penalty USA: 2001 – 2002. Tampa, FL: MoBeta, 2009. 131-34. Print.
  8. “Manufacturer Makes Fruit Drinks.” Jet 29 May 1952: 54. Print.