From Enterprise Staff
The Polk County Historical Commission is inviting everyone to attend the dedication of the replacement Texas Historical Marker for the Old Andress Inn, Livingston’s first hotel, at 2 p.m. Saturday in front of the Polk County Judicial Center located at 101 W. Mill St. in downtown Livingston. Following the dedication, light refreshments will be served at Miss Effie’s Cottage at 201 W. Mill St.
A Texas Historical Marker was installed and dedicated in 1968. It was located in the 100 block of West Mill Street in front of the old Pedigo furniture store. When these buildings were demolished for the construction of the Polk County Judicial Center, the original marker was lost. The new replacement marker will be dedicated in a ceremony hosted by the Polk County Historical Commission.
Built around 1846 or 1847, the Old Andress Inn was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. James Andress. Later, their daughter, Harriet Caroline Keys, owned and ran it. The hotel was said to be the social and business center of the community for many years.
Below is the Story of the Andress Inn, later the Keys Hotel, as told by Mrs. W.T. Epperson in the mid-1930s:
“It was the year of 1860 when I was a child of four years, I arrived at the Andress Inn by way of stagecoach. The Inn, situated on the south side of the present courthouse of Polk County, was the only hostelry in town.
“It consisted of two large rooms and a hall downstairs, two rooms upstairs, and a kitchen out in the back yard. Here the meals were prepared on a huge fireplace. The large dinner bell that could be heard all over town is now owned by the Masonic Lodge of Livingston.
“The bedsteads for the guests were hand-carved and laced together with ropes that served as springs. Sills of the Inn were hand-hewed logs about 12 by 12. As the county prospered, a new courthouse was built and the old courthouse of one large room was purchased by Mr. Andress. This, he attached to the Inn and used it as a dining room.
“In this room square dances were enjoyed and among the noted guests that attended these balls was Gen. Sam Houston. The passing of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Andress left the Inn to their only heir and daughter, Mrs. H.C. Keys, who as proprietress, added several rooms and discarded the kitchen in the yard for a modern attached kitchen with a cook stove.
“The name of the house was then known as the Keys Hotel. In later years, Mrs. Epperson, daughter-in-law of Mrs. Keys, took charge of the hotel and remained its proprietress until 1907. At this time the building was razed and property sold later for building purposes.”