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

Howard Johnson Motor Lodge and Restaurant, Raleigh, N.C.

This week for Flashback Friday we feature a classic photochrome postcard depicting Raleigh’s now lost Howard Johnson’s motel and restaurant.

Howard Johnson Motor Lodge and Restaurant
Landmark for hungry and sleepy Americans. Located 1 mile north of city limits of Raleigh, N.C. on U.S. 1 and 401. 40 comfortable rooms. Every room with tile bath. Free TV, Air Conditioned, Children’s Playground, and telephone.
SWIMMING POOL — Phone TE 4-0707

By the mid-20th century, the Howard Johnson chain was making an indelible imprint (as were ‘chrome’ postcards) on the American traveling public.

And so, yet another northern family is making its way south to Florida for the winter — and of course, Raleigh is the half-way stop-over on their journey.

We are staying here the second night. Had a beautiful warm sunny day today, but winter coats still feel good. No snow or ice to be seen anywhere.
Fannie & Erving M

Howard Johnson’s — An American Icon

The Howard Johnson’s company was founded by Howard Deering Johnson in the late 1920s. In the early days Johnson operated a string of concession stands along the Massachusetts coast. The stands sold soft drinks, hot dogs, and ice cream. As a result of his marketing success, Johnson soon was able to open sit-down restaurants. The first Howard Johnson’s restaurants featured fried clams, baked beans, chicken pot pies, frankfurters, ice cream, and soft drinks. As motoring traffic along US 1 increased following WWII, the company opened its first Howard Johnson’s motor lodge in Savannah, Georgia 1954.

From then on, the Howard Johnson name would become a recognizable part of American popular culture. With its trademark bright orange roof, menu items including fried clams and steaks, and 28 flavors of ice cream, Howard Johnson’s was the largest restaurant chain in America throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Rooted in popular culture, Howard Johnson’s and its iconography has come to represent the golden (orange) era of Americana — prosperity, modernity, et al. — despite the brand’s current status. Featured and often referred to in media throughout the 20th century, the formerly Orange Roofed chain was once the epitome of modernity — cutting edge in every way!
America’s Landmark: Under the Orange Roof

The company reached its peak in the mid-1970s, but following several changes of ownership in the 1980s and ’90, the iconic American company of the early days began to falter. Today, the motels continue to operate in a repackaged format, but as of June 2012, only two Howard Johnson’s restaurants remain, both dating to the original Howard Johnson’s company.

This week’s ‘photochrome’ postcard was published by Raleigh’s long-time, and revered studio photograper, Burnie Batchelor. It was produced by the postcard company Thomas Dexter Press of West Nyack, NY.

Thomas Dexter Press   1934-1980
West Nyack, NY

Printer of a wide variety of postcards subjects as linens and photochromes. Thomas A. Dexter was the inventor of gang printing. The Company merged with MWM Color Press in 1980 to become MWM Dexter, and they moved to Aurora, MO.

While all the photochromes printed by Dexter bore the words Genuine Natural Color they went through a variety of phases. Their early photochromes went under the name Dextone and tended to be flat and somewhat dull in appearance. As years went by their optical blending techniques improved producing richer and more varied colors.

“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!


Discuss Raleigh

  • Recent Comments:

    • phil: i was 9 yrs. old, was at j.y. joyner elementary school and remember being let to go home early. sort of...
    • Robert Hutchins: Long before it was the Corner Cupboard or the Sidestreet Cafe, the corner location was Roy’s...
    • Bryan: Me and my friends went there often and we always just called it the Subway. I remember seeing R.E.M. play at...
    • Bobby Bell: I am the owners son Bobby, dad goes by Bob Bell. He had great success in the restaurant buisness in the...
    • Joyce: Hi Mary Lou, Congratulations on your 30th year. Haven’t eaten there in a while, but will soon. You have...
    • Dancer: Having a feel for Hugh Morson Junior High wouldn’t be complete unless you were in Van Starling’s...
    • Mark Herdter: Karl, you are amazing. This is a great post, with excellent photographs. I remember drinking scotch...
    • ThomPark: Good hamburgers, cheap.


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