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

The Triangle Motel, Raleigh, N.C.

Triangle Motel_web

For Flashback Friday this week we present this classic ‘photochrome’ postcard depicting the 1960s era ‘airport-modern’ Triangle Motel — and toss in a little Raleigh-Durham Airport history as an extra treat.

Triangle Motel_back_web

The Triangle Motel
Located at the Raleigh-Durham Airport in the heart of the Research Triangle Area.
Phone – Raleigh 787-8121
Durham 596-6218
Ultramodern air conditioned soundproof rooms. Remote control TVs. Direct dial telephones. Conference room. Large pool. Near excellent restaurants. 100 yds. to airport terminal. Adjacent to transient aircraft ramp.

Perhaps it was a traveling boyfriend awaiting a connecting flight at RDU in 1968 who dashed off this quick note to his girl back home in Pennsylvania.

Stopped off here for the night – on to Knoxville tomorrow. [signature illegible]

The Triangle Motel was probably built in the mid-1960s. This was an era of increased popularity and ease of air travel, and on-site accommodations were considered a convenience to the traveling public.

During the ensuing decades, Raleigh-Durham Airport, the Gateway to the Triangle, greatly expanded its physical facilities as it experienced tremendous growth in the number of airlines and passengers it serviced. And yet, with all that growth surrounding it, the ‘ultramodern’ motel with its ‘air conditioned sound proof rooms’ stayed put.

The chrome postcard below shows the Triangle Motel site in context with the RDU terminal in 1972.


Ultimately, the 21st century caught up with the the Triangle Motel when the RDU Airport Authority demolished the aging mid-60s hostelry for an expanded parking lot and massive multi-deck parking garage in 2000.

From Regional Airfield to International Hub: The Metamorphosis of Raleigh-Durham Airport

Raleigh’s Municipal Airport, the first regional airfield in the central Piedmont, opened three miles south of the city in 1929. A decade later the small facility could no longer accommodate commercial air traffic, so the state legislature established the Raleigh-Durham Aeronautical Authority to oversee construction and management of a modern airport. In 1940 a site was chosen midway between Raleigh and Durham, and thus the Raleigh-Durham Airport was born.

World War II intervened during construction and, in 1942, the federal government took over the unfinished facility, designating it the Raleigh-Durham Army Air Field in January 1943. Although limited passenger service continued during the war years, the airfield served as a training facility for the Army Air Corps until January 1948. RDU airport itself was returned to full civilian control in 1946 and its first permanent terminal was built.

Photo courtesy The New & Observer

Photo courtesy The New & Observer

The brand new RDU terminal as it appeared in 1946.

Eastern Airlines had been the lone passenger carrier at RDU since 1943. Capital Airlines, began service at RDU in 1947, followed by Piedmont Airlines in 1948, bringing the total daily flights to 22. As air service continued to increase, the airport authority erected a commodious, modern brick terminal in 1955. Even with later additions and improvements, this structure remained essentially as it was built for the next 27 years.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

These photos show the RDU terminal as it appeared about 1957.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

RDU saw a significant expansion with the erection of ‘Terminal A’ in 1982 adjacent to the 1955 facility, which was then designated ‘Terminal B’. In the three decades since then RDU has grown tremendously, beginning with the addition ‘Terminal C’ in 1987. A 12-story FAA Air Traffic Control Tower opened in May 1987. And RDU went ‘international’ in 1996 when Air Canada introduced service to Toronto. The RDU Aiport Authority built a $40 million terminal area parking garage in 2000, which added a total of 2,700 new parking spaces between Terminals A and C.

In 2006 Terminal C was demolished and replaced by Terminal 2, a 550,000 square foot facility, which opened for service in 2008. In July 2012, a major reconstruction began on Terminal A, which was renamed Terminal 1. Sadly, when the project is complete, the older Terminal B, which had served as the Gateway to the Triangle since 1955, and has witnessed phenomenal change at the airport for nearly 6o years, will probably be razed.

Photo credit: Fentress Architects

Photo credit: Fentress Architects

Terminal 2 at night — Raleigh-Durham International Airport meets the 21st century.

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!


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