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

The Plantation Inn Motel and Restaurant, Raleigh, N.C.

Plantation Inn_2_web

“Gracious charm in pleasant surroundings” could only describe Raleigh’s now lost Plantation Inn. The classy motel offered road-weary travelers a hospitable and comfortable rest-over on the long journey along US 1 from the North to sunny Florida.

Plantation Inn_2_back_web

The Plantation Inn Motel and Restaurant. One of the South’s finest, is located on US Rt #1, 5 miles north of the Raleigh City limits. 26 acres of hospitality and old south charm.
For information and Reservations, Write P.O. Box 11333, Raleigh, N.C. 27604; or phone 919-876-1411.

The message on this card, mailed in 1973, is a bit enigmatic to me —

Dear Mary & Bill,
Our special thanks for a most enjoyable visit — Good food & good company! So far a good trip but the sun has been hiding until today — We tried steamed oysters at our favorite eating place last night.
Many many thanks. We look forward to seeing you May 5th.
Love Ginny & Bob

Looks like Ginny and Bob were still basking in the hospitality of their  friends back home in Connecticut. At this leg of their journey, I wonder where they were headed to? Florida, maybe? And ‘steamed oysters’ at their ‘favorite eating place’? Looks like the couple had traveled this route before.

Despite its exterior appearance, the 106-room motel was never actually a plantation. It was built in 1956 of concrete block and masonry. Georgia native William Morse, bought the property in 1959, a few years after it was built. At the time its amenities included a small pond and walking trails through a stand of pine trees. He renamed motel The Plantation Inn.

An ad in the 1962 Raleigh City Directory detailed some of the Plantation Inn’s leisure attractions:

The Plantation Inn and Restaurant
Meeting and banquet rooms, heated pools, children’s playground, room service, free coffee, private fishing lake, putting green.
William B. Morse, general manager, member Quality Courts United, AAA

As its reputation as a haven of genteel ambience grew during the 1960s and ’70s, the Plantation Inn became a local mecca for native Raleighites, as well as for the traveling public. Countless weddings, family celebrations, business gatherings and special Sunday dinners-out took place at the now renowned hostelry. Under the management of Jim Hobbs in the mid-1970s, the Plantation Inn was rated among the best hotels in the country, along with The Velvet Cloak Inn in downtown Raleigh.

At that time it must have seemed the heyday of the Plantation Inn would last for many decades to come.

Before It Was The Plantation Inn

The refined Plantation Inn of the 1970s had sprung from humble roots. During the boom era of the ‘tourist camps’ of the 1940s,  a Scandinavian native built a series of cabins in a pine grove on US1 just north of Raleigh. He gave his tourist camp the homey name ‘Scandia Village in the Pines.’

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The property soon evolved into an upscale motor court where travelers from the Northeast could stop on their way to vacation in Florida.

Scandia Village_1944_back_web

11-17-44
Well! Here we are. fine trip. This is a wonderful place to stop over. But it is getting Hot — 80 [degrees]. Big swell meal this eve. Will write later —
Tom L[illegible]

The motor court prospered, and by 1956 the proprietor was able to erect a commodious motel resort on the site of his humble cabins.

Scandia Village_web

Scandia Village in the Pines, Raleigh, N.C.
Motor Court and Restaurant
6 mi. north of Raleigh on US 1 Raleigh phones 3-8842 and 3-6070. Room phones, air conditioned, 18 hole putting green, golf course near by.

Scandia Village_interior_web

This elegantly furnished room in the ‘Old South’ style, characterized the accommodations at the new Scandia Village.

The End of an Era

The Plantation Inn continued to prosper through the 1970s and ’80s. Upon the death of Bill Morse in 1989, it was sold to local auto mogul Bobby Murray. He brought in new management and rebranded the motel ‘The Plantation Inn and Resort.’ By that time US 1, a two-lane blacktop in the 1950s, had become a multi-lane highway, and commercial development had begun to encroach on the bucolic oasis. Nonetheless, manager Jeff Blackstone continued the traditional graciousness of the Plantation Inn and brought its occupancy rate to 80%.

However, two road projects spelled eventual doom for the Plantation Inn. Completed in the early 1990s, I-95, east of Raleigh, drew traffic away from the US 1 corridor, and later, the I-540 Outer Loop, built literally across the Inn’s side yard, further siphoned off potential clientele.

Due to highway construction and increased commercial encroachment, by the late 1990s the occupancy rate had declined to barely 20%. Eventually the property was sold to developers, and on New Years Eve 2000 the Plantation Inn closed. In the spring of  2001 Raleigh’s Grande Dame of “Gracious charm in pleasant surroundings” was demolished. A non-descript, suburban big-box shopping center occupies the site today. It is called Plantation Point.

“The [Plantation Inn] property grows on you. It’s kind of a storybook place. It kind of has its own soul.” — Jeff Blackstone, manager of the Plantation Inn and Resort, 1991-2000

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Source material for this article includes “A ‘Plantation’ Amid Chaos” N&O 25 Dec 1999, “The Plantation Inn Is Out of Time” N&O 6 Jan 2001, “Twilight at the Inn” N&O 13 Jan 2001

 

This week’s ‘art tone’ linen postcard was published by Beals Litho of Des Moines, Iowa

Beals Litho  (1930’s-1950’s)
Des Moines, IA

A publisher of comic, roadside, and national view-cards. Produced military cards during World War One. Despite that these cards were issued under the trade name Art Tone Glo-Var Finished, they are indistinguishable from other linen postcards. The firm was sold to Associated Lithographers, Inc. in the early 1950’s.

Beals Art tone logo.jpg


“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:

    • Sandra: It is my understanding that the Cameron House was across Hillsborough in front of St Mary’s. Not...
    • Anna Ball Hodge: Also wondering why the Cameron House was demolished, where was it?
    • Anna Ball Hodge: I am teaching an art class at the Cardinal during that time. HATE to miss it. Hope it will be...
    • Elizabeth: Hey guys I am so dying to hear more! I am writing a book about RDU and want to make the book as personal...
    • Donna Harrison: While conducting research on my family tree, I found that a distant uncle was educated at Leonard and...
    • scott t: i think that big mirrored clock tower got drizzled with pigeon poop.
    • scott t: yeah…FSM was a bit angular. but theos plant boxes made excellent outdoor lunch time seats. i used FSM...
    • Janice Freeman Poole: I was born @ St. Agnes Hospital on June 12, 1958. Glad to be part of the History of such a...


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