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 Texas : Features : Columns : Bob Bowman's East Texas

The Antlers Hotel

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
Long before U.S. Highway 59 became the principal highway from East Texas to Houston and the Gulf Coast, Highway 35 ran along a route just west of 59, passing through the center of towns like Livingston, Lufkin and Diboll.

Highway 35 had its inception in 1915 when W.L.West, the publisher of the Polk County Enterprise at Livingston, used his editorial pages to urge East Texas counties to build a good road from Lufkin to Houston.

He helped organize a meeting of East Texas counties to form the “Lufkin-Livingston-Houston Highway Association,” a group whose efforts led to the building of Highway 35.

Those who remember Highway 35 also recall an unusual two-story log hotel at Diboll--the Antlers, built by Southern Pine Lumber Company and opened on October 28, 1939.

The Antlers not only provided guest lodging for Southern Pine’s customers, but was a popular stop for travelers on Highway 35.

The Antlers’ name probably came from the numerous racks of deer horns adorning the hotel’s interior. Later, the hotel was known simply as “The Inn.”

The hotel housed a restaurant that was as popular as the old hotel. As a boy growing up in Diboll, I was fascinated by the hotel and held a part-time job running the movie projector at Shirley Daniels’ Timberland Theater across the street from the hotel.

After each night’s movie, I ate a toasted cheese sandwich at the Antlers and walked down Highway 35 to our home a few blocks south of the hotel.

Last Christmas, my wife Doris surprised me with a beautiful painting of the Antlers by Charles Becker, a gifted Lufkin artist. Unwrapping the gift resurrected a flood of memories from the 1950s.

The Antlers came to an unhappy end in the 1950’s when termites, rats and rotting logs made it impossible to maintain. Southern Pine had no choice except to burn it down.

The afternoon the building burned, hundreds of Dibollians stood watching the fire, tears streaming down their faces. Older Dibollians still recall “the day the town cried.”

Photos of the Antlers remain, but few of them have the impact of Charles Becker’s wonderful painting of an East Texas landmark.

Bob Bowman's East Texas
November 8, 2009 Column
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
Copyright Bob Bowman

More Rooms With A Past
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 40 books on East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)

Related Topics:
East Texas |
"All Things Historical"

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The Forgotten Towns of East Texas, Vol. I
By Bob and Doris Bowman
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