Friday, March 21, 2014

Roadside Relics

I must have driven past the old roadside motel on Route 1 a thousand times.

Until a recent visit to the Library of Virginia's exhibit, NO VACANCY, I seldom gave the abandoned motel a second glance. But since the exhibit, with its compelling pictures and ephemera, memories of family travel have re-emerged.    

On a road trip south, I pulled over to snap a few pictures and tried to imagine the Wigwam Auto Court in its heyday. 

Wigwam Restaurant and Auto Court is nationally known. Southern Fried Chicken and Virginia ham attracts tourists from distant points. Garden fresh vegetables grown on our 400 acre farm which also provides our choice beef, pork, turkey, and chickens. Our Auto Court is modern in every detail. All units with television. U.S. 1 7 miles North of Richmond, Va.

Today the motel sits abandoned, but it did experience a second life in the 1970s as an antique mall. I remember one of the motel rooms was home to a shop that sold dollhouse furniture. My father stopped on every trip to Richmond, selecting tiny sofas and accent pieces to compliment the beautiful dollhouse he made for my youngest sister.

During my college years, my family often visited me in Williamsburg and always stayed the night in a charming little motor court, nestled among the newer and larger hotels, the Governor Spotswood Inn. Spending the night there with family comforted me like home.  But the Inn is gone now, torn down years ago.

Going the way of the telephone and the typewriter, motels are fading into the landscape, but sweet memories fill the vacancies.   

I'm linking up with Kim Klassen today and my Friday Find is this remnant of roadside culture, an old motel along Route 1 in Virginia. 


  1. I love window and door pictures. Yours are wonderful! The third photo is my favorite, love the reflection and the plants climbing up.

  2. There is a motor court we pass on the way to Southern California. I would love to stop and photograph it, but the place is still opened for business and has guest staying there.

  3. Hi Donna! I'm so happy to have met you and red about you :) Thank you so much for linking up!
    Your photography is stunning. I'll add your blog to my blog roll :)

  4. I just passed the Wigwam last week, driving U.S. 1 home from a day in Richmond. It reminded me of how my mother, my sister and I would "hit" the Wigwam on our weekend junkin' junkets--Antique Village on 301, this place and Little Dodge City (also a former motel) on U.S. 1, and some place on the Southside. I don't think we were ever happier than when we discovered something for our collections, a joyful experience lost in the age of eBay. I collected Wade figurines and old children's books, my mother carnival glass and salt & peppers, and my sister vintage Oriental dolls and porcelain. I remember the miniature booth because my mother and I were both building doll houses and "mouse houses."

    Your gorgeous photos remind me to stop some time and take my own pictures . . . imagine a motel with a 400-acre farm for its restaurant! No service food trucks with pre-cut vegetables and pre-made tubs of potato salad and cole slaw.

    1. Okay, Writer Girl, I know you are hard at work making words dance across the pages. Hope your research and writing are progressing well. My camera and I are constant companions these days. Missing you lots and wishing we could escape to the Wigwam and shop, and eat, and stay the night in a simpler time.

  5. Memories of yesteryear ... lovely post about this old motel, Donna !
    Gorgeous photos !
    And I saw your wooden background in one of your previous posts ... love it !
    Have a nice weekend,

  6. Absolutely wonderful pictures and trip down memory lane. Love the window photo with your shadow in it.

  7. Wonderful! I love door and windows... and places like this

  8. Awesome photos of this motel. I am always fascinated by them as well, and remember many trips as a child and staying at them.

  9. Fantastic story I love your photographs it's true telephones are going to be the next I think. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  10. I don't know how in the world I've missed your blog before but I need to start following. Such loveliness!


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