Posts Tagged ‘motel’

Jean Shepherd visits Little America, 1971

January 11, 2008

“You ever wake up sometimes maybe around 3 o’clock in the morning, you look up at the ceiling, the blackness – you feel that terrible urge to see it all, to get on the road. To smell the pine trees, watch all the rivers, see all the skies, climb all the hills….”

Jean Shepherd was a humorist known to millions through books, radio, and live shows, but is best known to modern audiences for co-writing and narrating (as grown-up Ralphie) the 1983 film A Christmas Story. He also had a very popular TV show: Jean Shepherd’s America, produced by WGBH (PBS) Boston, aired 13 shows in 1971 and 13 in 1985. (They’re available on DVD, or learn more here.) This clip, from the last show of the 1971 season, is the final segment and end credits. Jean and his crew are snowbound in Wyoming at Holding’s Little America motel and truck stop, along the Lincoln Highway and I-80. During the 4-minute video, he talks, in his measured prose, about life on the road, and the American urge to keep moving.

Postcard 3: Woods Motel & Cafe, Evanston, Wyo

January 6, 2008

This 1940s postcard advertised Wood’s Motel & Cafe – “ultra modern and steam heat” – on US 30 South in East Evanston, Wyoming. Has any part survived to visit during the 2008 LHA conference this June?

WY_Woods Motel & Cafe, Evanston

Hammer Motel, a Kearney landmark no more

January 3, 2008

The Hammer Motel on the Lincoln Highway in Kearney, Nebraska, was famous for its sign topped by a giant hammer and three supporting poles made to look like big nails. Named for the Hammer family, it served travelers for decades before being demolished in 1995 for parking.

NE_KearnHamEd
Postcards from Flickr friend Allen/Roadsidepictures.

Piecing together the story from various sources, John and Nina Hammer were married in 1935, then moved from Omaha to Kearney in 1938. John served in WWII and in 1947 they built the motel along Watson Blvd/24th St/US 30 West. A 1952 listing in the city’s Polk’s Directory also lists Fred and Belle Hammer as owners. Signs show it was a Best Western member, and matchbooks advertise that it was part of the Friendship Inn chain.

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The family sold the motel in 1962 and it closed in 1987. The adjacent University of Nebraska at Kearney then acquired it for student housing known as Hammer Hall or Hammer Apartments or just “The Hammer.” School literature described it as “a unique living opportunity for the approximately 50 upperclass residents of this remodeled hotel facility. Each convenience-style apartment has a private entrance, living room and bathroom. A variety of room sizes, laundry and kitchen facilities, front desk services, and ‘front-door’ parking are some of the significant advantages of the facility.” But in 1995, it was razed to create additional campus parking – see blue box below for what I believe is the site.

NE_Kearney map

A 2003 newsletter article explained that the Hammers were longtime supporters of the university, and that a $27,000 gift from son Fred E. Hammer to the University of Nebraska Foundation would landscape the lot. His donation also provided for “benches, tables and columns reminiscent of the columns that marked the entrance to the old Hammer Motel” to make the parking lot “a place for students to gather.” There was also to be a plaque mounted on one of the columns commemorating the motel as a historic Kearney site. “The parking lot will still be functional,” Hammer said, “but now it will be pretty as well.”

Nothing remains of the motel except the basic shape of the site, some postcards, and the parking area now known as Lot 27.

Sunset Motel cabins a challenge for Evanston, WY

December 18, 2007

One of the stops during the 2008 Lincoln Highway Association conference in Evanston, Wyoming, will be the remains of the Sunset Motel. The string of six rooms—three with built-in garages—are on Bear River Drive, the LH on the east end of town near WY-89. Built in 1932 in Mission or Spanish Colonial Revival style, this portion of the motel has been saved—the question now is what to do with it.

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I asked Jim Davis about the motor court. He’s Director of Administrative Services for Evanston and also on the Advisory Board for the Wyoming Main Street Program, on the Advisory Board for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a staff member for the Evanston Historic Preservation Commission, and a founding member and past chair of Tracks Across Wyoming.

The good news about the Sunset Cabins is that they are still standing. Bad news, we still haven’t figured a new use for them and they remain threatened. The Evanston Preservation Commission had them listed as locally significant; however this does nothing to protect them as Evanston does not have a demolition ordinance or any such preservation ordinance. The cabins remain with the ownership of the city and we are still trying to figure a way for us to find adaptive reuse in order to secure their future. A little over a year ago we placed a restored Lincoln Highway marker at the site in order to draw attention as to the significance of this site.

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One of the problems with any restoration effort is how to adapt and reuse. Jane Law, City of Evanston Urban Renewal Coordinator (and who kindly arranged for these photos), says, “We have heard artist studios, concessions, but nothing that gets everyone stirred up enough to get something done…. It would truly be a shame to ever lose them, they are quite unique and really pretty cute. The state is restoring some motor cabins in Ft. Bridger, so maybe we can get some more interest there for them to come a little further west.”

Another issue is having the resources for every worthy project:

At present we really have our hands full restoring, rehabilitating, and preserving our wonderful and unique roundhouse and railyards site…. We are also trying to rehabilitate a historic hotel in our historic downtown; that has been a very long process with years of delay. Our Renewal Agency just purchased what remains of our downtown theater. That will be quite a project in itself. There was a terrible fire there in May and the building is just a shell now, but not wanting a hole in the block or a mini parking lot, we stepped up and will try to make that a viable business for our downtown. So we have our hands full, BUT the Sunset Cabins are something our Historic Preservation Commission should address. I do think those coming next year [to the LHA conference] will like them and could play a big part in thinking of a reuse. [my emphasis]

Jane also sent a detailed and fascinating hisstorical survey of the site that I’ll review soon in a separate post.

Lodging restoration update – Colo Motel, Iowa

December 5, 2007

Colo sign 2Colo, Iowa, city clerk Scott Berka told me today that construction is progressing well at the Colo Motel, part of a wonderful “one-stop” restoration project in central Iowa. Painting is done and carpenters will start trimming next week, but furniture was just ordered today so it looks like it will be the first of the year before the motel reopens. Sounds like it will be ready in time for Springtime road trips!

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Film of S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel, 1972

December 2, 2007

The S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel was perhaps the best-known, most-visited landmark along the 3,300+ miles of Lincoln Highway. The famous roadside attraction was 17 miles west of Bedford, Pennsylvania, but unfortunately burned in 2001. With my Lincoln Highway Companion book ready for the editors, I’m starting on my next book, a fun look at the Ship. I first wrote about the Ship in 1989 and have been gathering information, recollections, and photos since then.

People took lots of snapshots there, and though they probably took movies, few of those surface, so it’s exciting to see this rare film from 1972! (Total time 3:32) Roger Shaulis shoots out the back window as they speed east on the Lincoln Highway through the Seven Mile Stretch, passing coal trucks. About 45 seconds in, they arrive at the Ship and go to the deck for the view and some goofing. The family jumps on the Turnpike for the final minute, passing through three tunnels on their way to New Jersey.

PC 2: Weeden Motor Hotel, Marshalltown, Iowa

December 1, 2007

The folks who sent this card in 1951 from the Weeden Motor Hotel wrote, “Not many motels along this route so far. Lucky we stopped when we did, got the last one and the next one is 25 miles…. When we got to Dwight [Illinois, on Route 66] Randy wanted to know if we were in Calif.”

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The original Lincoln Highway went through downtown; this was on a US 30 bypass (itself now bypassed). The card says the motel was 3 miles south and 1/2 mile west of town. I think it later became the Weeden Holiday Motel with a bigger c. 1970 sign at 2569 240th Street/Iowa Avenue. Any readers know its history? Or about Lloyd’s next door, which claimed to be Iowa’s most beautiful restaurant?

Mystery Postcard 1: Country Club motel, SLC, UT

November 25, 2007

Like the Mystery Photos we sometimes run on weekends, there are likewise lots of postcards that we wonder “whatever happened to that place?” This beautiful linen card from the Curt Teich Company pictures the Country Club Motor Lodge and Coffee Shop, 2665 Parley’s Way, Salt Lake City, Utah. It advertised 55 “strictly modern units” and “Sun Porch and Modern Coffee Shop for Convenience of Guests.” It’s named for The Country Club across the road, one of the West’s oldest courses (founded 1899) and still an elegant, private 18-hole course. Today, housing separates the two just west of the tangle of ramps where I-80, I-215, and UT 186 meet.

UT_Country Club

This card, postmarked Aug 4, 1949, was sent by a child:

“We got here right today We will be back to Sacramento California soon We are haveing a nice trip so good-by and I will see you soon from Mary Jean”

UT_Country Club back

What’s left at the site today? The phone number is now a private residence. A Yahoo aerial view shows it still there, but you can buy for a condo at the Country Club Ridge subdivision at the same address. Price for #310 is $649,000 for 2,065 sq ft, built 2007. Are we a year too late…?

UT_Country Club map

Austin, Nevada's Lincoln Motel Gets Gussied Up

November 16, 2007

Next time you’re in Austin, Nevada, Jan Morrison will scoop you an ice cream cone or rent you a room for the night. The desserts come from her Main Street Shops, located in an 1881 merchantile, where she offers everything from Victoriana to local art to souvenirs from Nevada and the Lincoln Highway. It’s at her coffee shop there that you can get ice cream or fresh-baked biscotti.

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Her rooms are at the c. 1950 Lincoln Motel, which has 17 units, three of them studios with kitchens. Just look for the reproduction LHA concrete post out front. Jan says it was put there last summer by the Nevada Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association, which has worked hard placing the posts and other signs along the route through Nevada.

Since she took over the motel about a year-and-a-half ago, Jan has been making improvements such as paving the entire parking lot, updating the plumbing and electrical, replacing carpet and painting nearly every room, and adding wi-fi. She encourages reservations (775) 964-2698 because “we and the other motels easily fill up by 8 pm. Sometimes touring groups reserve the entire motel. If you head west, Fallon (1.75 hrs) usually has rooms, but if you are heading east, Eureka fills up just as we do.” It’s also the only motel in Austin that accepts pets.

Of course, the history here stretches before car travel: “It is built on the site of the first silver mine in 1862, the year that the “Rush to the Reese River’ started. There were over 20,000 mining claims around Austin and its population went from a few miners to nearly 10,000 people just a few years after the silver discovery.” Here’s a photo or click here for an extra-large wide-angle view.

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Jan has more info about her businesses and interests here but she is a big booster for the entire area: “We have hundreds of miles of biking and hiking trails, beginning to expert. The bike trails include ‘one track’ and ‘two track’ routes and go through forest, meadows, desert, and some very challenging climbs and drops. Several of the trails start right in town at the park or the east end of town where a bike shop used to be. (Unfortunately, the business moved to a larger market area in Elko, so there is no place to rent bikes anymore.) We have free bike trail guides at most merchants and in the courthouse (not open on weekends). The Chamber of Commerce will mail them out in advance, call (775) 964-2200. We are also a central place for day trips to ghost towns, fishing, hot springs, hiking, and off-road exploring. We have 13 buildings and sites on the National Register and are working hard on restoring them.”

And … Colo Motel to Open Soon

October 25, 2007

Colo sign 2Just as exciting as Niland’s Cafe reopening is that the restoration of the adjacent Colo Motel is nearly complete. (That’s their sign at left.) Six units offering modern amenities in a classic décor will be available for daily rental starting December 1. The motel closed in 1995 but in recent years has been part of the one-stop’s restoration that includes a non-working gas station and operating cafe. Colo Development Group hopes to someday use the memorabilia-filled gas station as a gift shop.

Scott Berka sent the photo below of the site before restoration was started – the motel is in the middle. Click here for a much larger version.

Colo Motel small