LONGBRANCH INN. The Longbranch Inn is a small but popular bar and live music venue located at 1133 East Eleventh Street in Austin. The bar originally opened as Pike’s Place sometime between 1898 and 1900 and is listed in a 1935 Austin city directory as the oldest original tavern in the city. W. A. Schieffer was the proprietor. By 1949 the tavern had changed hands and was renamed the Eleventh Street Tavern. From 1950 to 1965 it was known as James Tavern. In 1965 the name changed for the last time to the Longbranch Inn. Kevin Crutchfield, who purchased the club in 2003, believed its name was chosen because of a bar called “The Longbranch” in the popular long-running television series Gunsmoke. For many years the Longbranch was “a popular juke-joint for the locals” and occasionally had live blues music performances. Historically the majority of the club’s patrons were African-American, but by 2007 the bar’s jukebox included mostly rock-and-roll and popular “indie rock” selections intended for a younger, predominantly white audience. The club also offered occasional live music.
The Longbranch’s location is part of what makes it important to Texas music. East Eleventh Street was one of the main strips for the Austin section of the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” which flourished during the 1940s and 1950s. This circuit, a string of clubs and venues that stretched from Texas eastward into New Orleans, up through Mississippi and Tennessee, and to Kansas City and Chicago, offered a “continuous opportunity for black musicians to play music in this country and eke out a living doing it.”
Though the Longbranch was never one of the main venues listed as part of the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” it did occasionally hold live blues performances during the circuit’s heyday. In fact Eleventh Street itself was lined with venues during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s that featured a variety of touring bands. In order to see some of the best-known performers on the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” Longbranch customers only had to walk across the street to the Victory Grill, a well-known live music venue.
Austin American-Statesman, August 14, 2003. Austin Chronicle, January 3, 1997. Kevin Crutchfield, Interview by Sandy George, October 19, 2006. Eva Lindsey, Interview by Sandy George, October 23, 2006. Longbranch Inn and Scoot Inn (http://www.scoot-inn.com/eastinns/index.php), accessed October 25, 2011.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Sandra George, "LONGBRANCH INN," accessed January 26, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xdl03.
Uploaded on June 4, 2015. Modified on July 15, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.