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Stage Coach Inn - Chappell Hill, TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Raven
N 30° 08.617 W 096° 15.436
14R E 764198 N 3337876
Quick Description: Added to the NRHP on Dec 12th 1976 (under #76002082), the Stage Coach Inn (a.k.a. the Hargrove House) is the oldest building in Chappell Hill, TX. Built in 1850, it was still used as a bed & breakfast until a few years ago.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 12/29/2014 3:28:21 PM
Waymark Code: WMN5FD
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 1

Long Description:
Chappell Hill, Texas was founded by Mary Hargrove Haller who purchased a 100-acre site in this part of Texas on February 2, 1847 and subsequently commissioned a survey and the plotting of town lots. Just three years later, in 1850, she and her husband Jacob began built a two-story frame house now known as the "Stagecoach Inn" at the northwest corner of the center of that new town.

The Stagecoach Inn is a 14-room Greek Revival home with a low-pitched hipped roof, handsome Greek key frieze, and three-bay single-story entrance porch, and was one of the most architecturally distinguished structures in Washington County. Apart from its historical association with the founder of the town, it is known for its sophisticated detailing, unusual to find in a primarily rural town. Its location, right along the road from Houston to Austin or Waco, was a stopping point for some of Texas' first stagecoach lines, including the "Smith and Jones" and later the "F.P. Sawyers" lines.

The Stagecoach Inn was subsequently acquired by Mrs. Charlotte Hargrove, the wife of Jacob Haller's father-in-law and business partner, W. D. Hargrove. As a strong supporter of the Methodist Church, Mrs. Hargrove opened her home as a boarding house for students when the Methodist Church sponsored the nearby Chappell Hill College in 1852. The boarding house ("Hargrove House") continued to operate until 1859, when Mrs. Hargrove sold it to [Benjamin] R. Thomas, a local attorney and merchant.

"As the local cotton economy faded after the turn of the 20th century and highways were built bypassing the town, the Stagecoach Inn fell into disrepair until it was purchased in 1976 by Houston architect Harvin C. Moore and his wife Elizabeth. Harvin had often seen the Inn while traveling in the 1920s to and from Austin as a student and member of the Rice University band, and had dreamed of one day bringing it back to life" (source: Wikipedia). The Inn continued to be operated as a bed and breakfast until just a few years ago, even after it passed hands to new owners (Eileen and Steve Evans). As the date of this waymark posting, however, the building is currently up for sale.

A detailed narrative of the actual building follows, per the Texas Historical Commission Atlas records:

"The Inn, built in 1851 by Jacob Haller, is unusually austere in detail and its architectural pretensions are expressed primarily in proportioning and careful attention to specific details. Each of the Inns four elevations have eight symmetrically arranged 6/6 light single hung sash windows, with four windows at each level. The first floor windows are slightly taller than those of the second, and are 5'9" high, while the second floor windows are 5'0" tall. The slight reduction in height is indicative of the subtlety of detailing found throughout the Inn. The only exception to the symmetrical arrangement of windows is on the first level of the south side, where the windows have been relocated and are no longer aligned with the second story windows.

The eastern or main facade of the Inn originally had a one bay single story entrance portico with a slat balustrade on the first floor, and around the second floor deck. Supporting each side of the portico were paired square columns with mitred cyma recta molded caps and simple block bases. Above the columns was a wooden architrave with an unusual double molding and a simple box cornice, a scaled down reproduction of the Inn's cornice, lacking only the frieze. Simple pilasters with cyma recta molded caps and square bases, supported the junction of the porticos architrave and the Inns east wall. The portico was severely damaged by a 1970 hurricane, and was dismantled. A crude shelter supported on two posts was installed to shield the entrance, but the disassembled portico may be brought out of storage and restored by the Inn's present owner.

The centrally placed first floor main entrance is a single door flanked by multi-paned side lights and bridged by a multi-lighted transom. The wooden door jambs and lintels were deeply fluted and intersected in plain, square blocks. A rectangular panel placed on the lintel above the transom originally bore the various names of the Inn. This panel and original lintel have disappeared since the 1936 HABS drawings were made of the structure, and was replaced by simple board lintel. A single door, flanked by multi paned sidelights, but lacking a transom, opened on the balustraded deck of the portico. The detailing of the second floor entrance was similar to that of the first, but the door jambs were plain rather than fluted.

Brick end chimneys on the north and south sides of the Inn served four fireplaces, two on each floor. The interior chimneys themselves were sheathed with clapboard siding as far as the entablature, but their fire boxes protruded slightly and were exposed third end chimney, centrally placed on the west side of the Inn, was dismantled and reassembled on the west wall of the southwestern corner room. All of the mantle pieces are of wood. The first floor mantles have eared cornices with Cyma Recta moldings as their sole ornament. The second floor mantles are extremely plain, with mitred and beveled moldings. The interior walls are hand split cedar lath and plaster, as are the ceilings. The floors are ramnom length center match cedar. Natural cedar is also used for the exterior clapboard walls.

The Inn has a box cornice with concealed gutters and an intricately crafted Greek Key frieze. The frieze which is one of the Inns outstanding architectural features, was damaged by the 1960 Hurricane. Sections which were endangered by further exposure to the weather have been removed and stored, pending restoration of the Inn.

Drain pipes were originally placed at each of the four corners of the Inn, but they have also been removed and stored. The four copper downspout heads, which are still in place, are each stamped with a five pointed star and the date of the Inns construction. Horizontal bands of equilateral triangles complete one design. The Inn has a low pitched hipped roof of cedar shingles.

In plan the Inn differs from the typical Texas Greek Revival interior design of a central penetrating hall symmetrically flanked by rooms on each side. The Inn has an unusual front entrance hall at the eastern (main) entrance, which contains a staircase with 1/4 turn and winders. The staircase has a tapered, hand carved newel post and a slat balustrade. The entrance hall is flanked by two rooms, each with a fireplace. Behind the entrance hall is a large room, on the western side of the Inn, which served as a dining room when stage coaches stopped there. The dining room is flanked on each side by two smaller rooms, each with a single door opening on the dining room. The second floor plan is virtually identical to that of the first, and has remained unattended. The first floor, however, has been changed. Pine interior walls of the two rooms located to the southwest of the dining room, were removed in the late 19th century, and replaced with a single partition wall, creating one large room. The window in the western wall was removed and a door was inserted.

A one story frame structure was added at the west or rear side of the Inn. It is connected to the Inn by means of a narrow board and batten passageway, and once served as the Inn's Kitchen. The entrance to the connecting passageway was created by removing the centrally placed west wall fireplace of the Inn, and enlarging the framed chimney opening to accommodate the door to the passageway. The cedar clapboard kitchen has a square principal room with a northern "lean to" addition. The kitchen's south facade has an exterior entrance and two single hung 6/6 light windows with stationary upper sashes. The kitchen, with its cedar shingled roof, is badly deteriorated and is less structurally sound than the Inn itself.

The Inns present owner, Mrs. Charles L. Bybee, who is well known in Texas for her patronage of architectural restoration projects, plans to preserve the Inn and restore it to its former appearance as an early Texas hostelry.

The Stage Coach Inn at Chappell Hill Texas, is an unusually sophisticated and austere Greek Revival structure which was originally the home of Mary Chappell Haller, one of the few women in Texas to found a town. The Inn also served as a boarding house for one of Texas' earliest educational institutions, and as a Stage Coach Inn during Washington County's heyday as the States leading center of cotton production and communications.

The Inn was originally intended as the private residence of Jacob Haller and his wife, Mary Chappell Haller. Mrs. Haller was the daughter of one of Washington County's first settlers, Robert Wooding Chappell, who established a cotton plantation near the site of Chappell Hill in 1841. Mary Chappell Haller purchased approximately 200 acres at the site of present day Chappell Hill in 1847, and commissioned a town survey and the platting of town lots. In 1848, Chappell Hill was established, named by Mrs. Haller in honor of her father. Mrs. Haller was one of the few women in Texas history directly responsible for the creation and naming of a town.

Jacob Haller was made Chappell Hill's first postmaster and ran a lucrative ferry business on the Brazos River, as well as a Chappell Hill dry goods store. Haller supervised his wife's holdings of cotton and grain fields, and the Hallers prospered from the vigorous cotton trade which made Washington county Texas' leading center for cotton production and export, prior to the Civil War.

In 1850, the Hallers began building their large two story frame house which was one of the most architecturally distinguished structures in the county. The Haller's home, with its low pitched hipped roof, handsome Greek Key frieze, and three bay single story entrance porch, was reminiscent of American Georgian or English Palladian architecture. Apart from its historical associations, the Inn is notable primarily for the sophistication of its detailing.

In 1851, before completion of the home, Jacob Haller died. The structure was acquired by Hallers son-in-law, and business partner W. D. Hargrove, who invited Mrs. Haller to remain living there. The Hargroves were supporters of the Methodist Church, and when the Methodist sponsored Chappell Hill Seminary was formed in 1852, the Hargroves opened their home as a boarding house for students. It was at this time that the house became known as an Inn, and was operated under the name "Hargrove House". In 1855 William Hargrove died, and Mrs. Hargrove continued to operate the boarding house until 1859, when she sold it to Benjamin R. Thomas, a local attorney and merchant. Thomas re-opened the Inn as the "Thomas House" and catered primarily to travelers. He became the postmaster of Chappell Hill in 1856 and was responsible for making the Inn a stage coach stop on the Austin to Houston road. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Washington County was the most populous area in the State, and was the largest cotton producer in Texas. As a result, most of the State's communications network centered in Chappell Hill and nearly Washington-on-the-Brazos. Telegraph reports of the Civil War's progress were relayed from Chappell Hill to the Capitol at Austin, which had no telegraph service. The Stage Coach Inn became a center for mail delivery, message exchange, and a stop for post riders and stage coaches.

After the collapse of the Confederacy in 1865, Washington County experienced an economic depression and in 1869, Benjamin Thomas filed for bankruptcy. The Inn and its contents were sold at an auction to J.T. Sweringen, who purchased it for $30.00. Elgin Goode, Thomas' son-in-law, eventually recovered the Inn through protracted legal action in the 1870s. Goode later sold the Inn, in 1890 to Mrs. F. A. Lyde a Chappell Hill widow who used the Inn as a private residence.

In 1962, Mrs. Charles L. Bybee of Houston, Texas purchased the Inn from Mrs. Lydes' heirs. Mrs. Bybee, who is well known in Texas as a benefactress of several architectural restoration projects, intends to restore the structure to its appearance as an early Texas Inn."
Street address:
4950 Main St.
Chappell Hill, TX

County / Borough / Parish: Washington county

Year listed: 1976

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event; Architecture/Engineering (Texas Greek Revival Archictecture); Transportation/Communications

Periods of significance: 1850-1874

Historic function: Domestic / Hotel, Single Dwelling

Current function: Work In Progress

Privately owned?: yes

Season start / Season finish: From: 1/1/2015 To: 1/1/2015

Hours of operation: From: 12:00 AM To: 12:00 AM

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 2: [Web Link]

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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Raven visited Stage Coach Inn - Chappell Hill, TX 12/27/2014 Raven visited it