Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts, America’s Finest, Raleigh, N.C.

For Flashback Friday this week we once again revisit the glory days of automobile travel along the East Coast’s storied US Highway 1. Presenting — the Alamo Plaza!

Sorry to say, there is no message on the back.

Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts was the first motel chain in the United States. Lee Torrence, of Waco Texas, created the franchised motel concept in 1929. The distinctive Spanish Mission Revival architectural style was modeled after the famous American landmark: the Alamo . Raleigh’s Alamo Plaza opened in 1950, and was owned by Torrence himself.

From an advertisement in the 1958 Raleigh City Directory:

Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts, John E. Moses, Manager; 60 Modern Air Conditioned Sleeping Units, Suites and Kitchenette Units, Telephone and Free Television in Every Unit, Swimming Pool; 1816 Louisburg Rd, Box 944, US Hwy 1 and Hwy 401 North at City Limits, Tel TEmple 4-3438

— Raleigh City Directory, 1958

Motels, aka ‘motor courts,’ grew in popularity with the traveling public as Americans took to the road in the 1940s and ’50s. With their private-entrance rooms and amenities such as in-room telephones, swimming pools, and later, television and air conditioning, motels superseded the earlier  ‘tourist home’ as the rest stop of choice.

The Alamo Plaza joined  Johnny’s Motor Lodge on the stretch of US Highway 1 (aka Louisburg Rd/US 401) just north of Raleigh’s city limits. A few years later, Fairfield Motor Court (now the Milner Inn) opened right across the road.

I well remember the Alamo Plaza, and the gas stations — Pure, Sinclair and Gulf — and the tiny convenience stores that clustered around it. The iconic Raleigh motel went out business in the late 1960s, I think, and was demolished within 10 years later. The vast sea of asphalt that is now the Bobby Murray Chevrolet dealership on Capital Blvd. occupies the site today.

Happy Motoring!

Our postcard this week was published by Bone-Crow Co., of Waco, Texas — hometown of the Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts.

Bone-Crow Co. (1930’s-1950’s)
Waco, Texas

These printers were early users of offset lithography. They produced roadside postcards in black and white and color through process printing.

“Flashback Friday” is a weekly feature of Goodnight, Raleigh! in which we showcase vintage postcards depicting our historic capital city. We hope you enjoy this week-end treat!