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.