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Stephen F. Austin State University

Burkeville's Round Table Inn (August 2014)

Burkeville's Round Table Inn

The Round Table restaurant in Burkeville at one time drew people from all over the state, not just because it had a round table with a Lazy Susan but also because the food was the best and freshest in East Texas. The house itself was originally built by a Confederate veteran, David F. Harrell, in 1865 and was a famous hotel in possibly the fourth oldest town in Texas. The table itself seated a dozen people and had a rotating centerpiece to pass the food between guests. The Harrell House used to serve stagecoaches and others traveling along an old military road. It was eventually renamed the Round Table Inn for the famous Lazy Susan table.

The inn was operated for 35 years and catered to both Texas and Louisiana residents. T. J. Windham was 4 years old when her parents, the Harrells, brought her in an ox cart from Alabama to Burkeville. The trip took a month. The Windhams established the first hotel in town and by the late 1800s, word spread that the food at Windham's hotel was unequalled. The revolving table was built in 1895 from cedar trees on the property. While the table was unusual, the biggest draw was the menu. It included chicken, beef, ham and fish (when available). Mrs. Windham served every country vegetable in season or home canned, home-made pie, cake and bread of all kinds

During the late 1800's the tables itself was secondary. The wealth of fine foods was viewed as the best in East Texas and there seemed to be an unending supply. After Windham's father and husband died, Mrs. Windham was left to operate the hotel alone. Business was good until the late 1920's when prosperity for some reason brought the end of the big revolving tables. According to the Beaumont Enterprise, Mrs. Windham was heard to say, "If you had only let us know you were coming, we would have been ready for you." Then the guest would glance at the table and wonder how Mrs. Windham cold possible get more or better food on the table. The inn/restaurant is no longer in operation but its reputation is still a part of the Newton County's history and the building is still there.