Historic American Buildings Survey of the Halfway Inn

When the National Park Service (NPS) launched the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) as a New Deal initiative, it intended to measure and record "the complete field of ... American Architecture from the earliest aboriginal structures to the latest buildings of the Greek Revival period." The Old Half-Way Inn located along Highway 21 just north of Chireno, Texas, certainly fell into that range. The building had served as a stagecoach stop during the 19th century and reflected an important aspect of East Texas history.

Through the work of hundreds of architects HABS employed, including the three who surveyed the Old Half-Way Inn, the agency created a permanent record that captured how historic properties looked during the Great Depression. HABS drew upon the Colonial Revival movement, which focused on appreciation of early American history and influenced preservation efforts like the restoration and reconstruction of Colonial Williamsburg and the recognition of the 1936 centennial of Texas independence.

Constructed only a few years after Texas gained its independence from Mexico, the Old Half-Way Inn, today more commonly known as the Halfway Inn or Flournoy-Granberry House, was home to early Texas settler Samuel Flournoy and his family in the 1840s. Flournoy served as a postmaster for the Republic of Texas and the house, so named for its position midway between San Augustine and Nacogdoches, became a frequent stop for stagecoaches and for others, like Sam Houston, traveling along the main roadway known as Old San Antonio Road or El Camino Real.

The Halfway Inn passed through several owners in the 19th and early 20th century, and when architects Charles Burley Witchell, Robert Hudson Linskie, and Hunter McKay, Jr., arrived to survey it in early March 1934, they found the two-story log building to be in poor shape. While the structural parts were in "perfect condition," their report noted that the former inn, then owned by H.R. Granberry, was "otherwise in a poor state of repair." The report also stated that the original exterior log walls had been covered with siding and a relatively new corrugated metal roof covered the building. The shallow gabled roof extended over the front porch with four two-story columns of wooden boards.

The Halfway Inn remained in the Granberry family until the early 1980s. It was moved in 1984 but was returned to within one-quarter mile of its original location in 1988 when the Chireno Historical Society acquired it. The Society relocated a historic church building to the same property in 2012. Today the Chireno Historical Society maintains and operates the Halfway Inn as a historic site, providing tours and hosting a heritage festival there each spring.

Images

Halfway Inn from Southwest

Halfway Inn from Southwest

Charles Burley Witchell took five photos, including this one, of the Halfway Inn that were included in the HABS record. This image shows the view of the five-bay structure from the southwest. | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Halfway Inn South Elevation

Halfway Inn South Elevation

This view of the south or front elevation offers a good view of the second floor balcony and of the corrugated metal roof, which the surveyors described as galvanized iron. An unidentified member of the survey team is seen holding a foot rule or similar device for scale. | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Halfway Inn Entrance

Halfway Inn Entrance

This view of the entrance to the Halfway Inn provides the most detailed look at the construction of the columns which reach from the roof to the ground. Wooden boards are connected with wooden blocks which not only reinforce the columns and keep the boards uniformly spaced but, according to the HABS documentation, also create an "openwork design." | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Halfway Inn from Southeast

Halfway Inn from Southeast

This photograph, taken from the southeast, provides a view of the brickwork of one of the two chimneys, an unidentified outbuilding and wire fencing which surrounded the house on three sides. | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Halfway Inn Measured Drawings Cover

Halfway Inn Measured Drawings Cover

The architectural survey team drafted five pages of measured drawings of the Halfway Inn, as well as this cover sheet of the site plan. This plan shows the building's original location along Highway 21 just west of Chireno, approximately one-quarter mile from its current location. | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Halfway Inn Measured Drawing of Floor Plan

Halfway Inn Measured Drawing of Floor Plan

Charles B. Witchell, head of the Halfway Inn survey team, created this measured drawing of the historic building's floor plan. The uses and dimensions of each room are noted as are exterior spaces such as porches and a second floor deck or balcony. | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Halfway Inn Measured Drawing of Elevations

Halfway Inn Measured Drawing of Elevations

Robert H. Linksie prepared this measured drawing showing all four elevations of the Halfway Inn. The drawing details the dimensions, materials and even some of the design methods such as the board-and-batten exterior of the north and south elevations. | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Halfway Inn Measured Drawing of Details

Halfway Inn Measured Drawing of Details

Hunter McKay, Jr., prepared two pages of scale drawings showing design details. The first page records mostly exterior elements while this page shows interior elements such as the stone fireplaces and wooden mantels. | Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress View File Details Page

Recent View of Halfway Inn

Recent View of Halfway Inn

Taken in 2011, this image shows the Halfway Inn in its current location, approximately one-quarter mile from its original site. This photograph was taken the year before the historic Chireno Baptist Church building was moved to the Halfway Inn property, just northwest of this structure. | Source: Dr. Perky Beisel View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Amy Bertsch, “Historic American Buildings Survey of the Halfway Inn,” East Texas History, accessed June 25, 2017, http://easttexashistory.org/items/show/114.

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