The Halfway House
If you have traveled along the Jefferson Davis Highway/Route 1 Corridor in Chesterfield, you may have noticed a historic building marked “The Half Way House”, located north of Route 288. The owners, Rick and Sue Young, have operated the building as a restaurant for nearly 40 years. Community Enhancement staff met with the couple in early October 2019 to learn more about their experiences of living and working on the Corridor:
What is the history of the Half Way House?
“It was originally built in 1760 and was moved to its current location in the early parts of the 1800s. The original location is unknown, though it is suspected it was located further north on the Corridor and owned by the Hatchers. Located halfway between the Cities of Richmond and Petersburg, it originally served as a stagecoach stop for weary travelers. During the Civil War, it served as Union Major General Butler’s headquarters during the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. After the war, it served as a private residence for various families. In 1940, during the Prohibition, C. Brydon Tennant purchased the property, and restored the building as a tavern. Several years later, the Benders bought the property and opened the Half Way House as a restaurant.”
“In 1982, my brother and I set out on a journey to the Outer Banks to rediscover the secrets of the Wright Brothers by building and flying reproductions of their early aircraft. During this time, I met Mr. Bender who sold us land in the Outer Banks. Two years later we bought the Half Way House from his parents, Fred & Dorothy Bender.” Since purchasing the property, the Young’s have operated the Half Way House as a full-service restaurant.
The brothers never lost their love of aviation and are currently working on their 21st reproduction of the Wright Brothers airplane.
How have you seen the Corridor transform or change throughout your time at the Half Way House?
“Dramatically, really dramatically. It’s much safer. The influx of the Latino community has been absolutely wonderful from our end- from what I have seen, they are very hard-working people that have contributed a lot to helping their neighbors fix up their older houses.”
What is your favorite thing about the Corridor?
“The convenience- the location- it is extraordinary!”
What is your favorite or most popular entree on the menu?
“Our combination meals, especially our filet served with our crab cakes and shrimp!”
What would you like to see for the Corridor?
It’s just a matter of having vision and realizing that change takes time. What I’d like to see in the community is some courage to commit to a vision and put the resources in. What we know about redevelopment is we can get it started with a sensible plan by identifying what are the things that are going to move this ball. The perfect example is [Better Housing Coalition’s] Winchester Greens. You look at what they did- that place was an absolute disaster, one of the most dangerous parts of the state! And now it’s incredible. What they did to people’s lives, I wish you could go back and memorialize it. What a story that these guys did! To me, its impacting people’s lives here, and so if you don’t like something but it’s going to impact other people’s lives, I’m sorry the lives are much more important than any of this. And that’s what we do, we make our communities safer if we do that.”