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Raleigh Cabana Motel, Raleigh, N.C.

Raleigh Cabana_1_web

This week for Flashback Friday we’ll make a brief stopover at the Raleigh Cabana Motel. In the spring of 1964 our correspondent, ‘Elizabeth,’ mailed two photochrome postcards depicting the motel back home to her mother in Greenville, SC.

Raleigh Cabana_1_back_web

Raleigh Cabana Motel.
516 S. Salisbury St., Downtown
Raleigh, North Carolina
56 luxurious rooms, wall to wall carpeting, exquisite furnishings, TV, Swimming Pool, Free Parking, Fine Restaurant

Presumably, Elizabeth was staying  at the motel. But From her message, it’s not clear why. Maybe she was in town for a week-long seminar, or training course of some sort.

Dear Mother, Hope everything is going O.K. with you. I feel that I have had a very profitable week. I have really worked hard! I believe I have earned my diploma. Will probably see you Sat.
Love, Elizabeth

Four days earlier she had mailed her mother another postcard depicting the motel.

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This ‘double-view’ card shows the exterior and inner swimming pool courtyard and parking area of the Raleigh Cabana Motel.

Raleigh Cabana_2_back_web

Dear Mother, Had an interesting day at Danker & Wohler [?]. I believe I learned a good bit. There is a very nice restaurant connected with this motel and I am on my way there to eat supper.
Love to all, Elizabeth

I hope Elizabeth enjoyed her supper at the ‘very nice restaurant.’ Wonder if she had time for a dip in the pool?

The Raleigh Cabana Motel — Suburban Comfort in an Urban Setting

Raleigh Cabana followed the typical motel model of the era. It was constructed in a “U”-shaped layout that featured guest rooms opening directly onto a parking area, an attached manager’s office with a small reception lobby, and as in most motels, a swimming pool. The second story rooms faced onto a balcony served by multiple stairwells. There was also an attached restaurant associated with the motel. The distinguishing difference was, of course, its downtown urban setting.

As one of only three motels located in downtown Raleigh in the early 1960s, the Raleigh Cabana Motel was built in 1962 on the busy 500 block of S. Salisbury St. Originally a residential area of single-family homes and corner grocery stores, the lower blocks of S. Salisbury St. metamorphosed into an automobile-oriented district in the 1950s, dominated by filling stations, auto sales and service, car repair shops and used car lots.

Despite its rather bleak, work-a-day surroundings, the Raleigh Cabana Motel claimed in an ad in the 1964 city directory that the motel was “Downtown Raleigh’s most convenient.” Furthermore, the motel offered

a swimming pool, dining room, 24-hr room service, TV in every room, air conditioned banquet and meeting rooms, beautiful luxurious [guest] rooms

By 1970, the heyday of the urban motel had passed. The Raleigh Cabana was surrounded by vacant buildings; its only neighbor was the office of a chemical manufacturing firm. During the 1970s a couple restaurants opened and closed on the block in quick succession. An Elks Club moved into the former Gino’s Restaurant site adjacent to the motel. Sadly, by the end of the decade, the area was just not a viable business location. The Raleigh Cabana Motel closed its doors in 1977; the next year every building remaining on the block was vacant, and by 1980 they had all been demolished.

Today, the Raleigh Convention Center, and the incredibly beautiful ‘Shimmer Wall’, occupy the site of the Raleigh Cabana Motel.



Our Flashback Friday ‘photochrome’ postcard this week was published by Henry McGrew Printing, of Kansas City, MO. Under its trade name, HM Litho specialized in photochrome postcards depicting motel and resort views.

“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!

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