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Archive for the ‘motel’ tag

Western Inn & Suites, 827 Bush River Road: Summer 2012   11 comments

Posted at 12:32 am in Uncategorized

Written by ted on August 22nd, 2012

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Downtowner Motor Inn / The Governor's House / Rodeway Inn, 1301 Main Street: 2011   16 comments

Posted at 11:23 pm in Uncategorized

As reported by The State this venerable hotel at the corner of Main & Lady Streets will be converted into a upscale condo called The Palms with 54 "resort-style" units. They will also have a view of what is apparently the only pool on Main Street.

Given that the article talks about the developer struggling to find financing for the project for several years, and the fact that the Rodeway Inn is listed in the Feb 2011 phonebook, I can only guess that the developer owned the property and continued to run it as a hotel until things came together. I admit to being surprised how long it lasted as a mid-to-lower-mid market motel in an area that if it gets anyone (after all who in the general population wants to visit Columbia and stay on Main Street?) would get high-roller business and government connected types.

(Hat tip to commenter Tom)

UPDATE 26 May 2012: Here's a State article on the opening of The Palms.

Written by ted on June 28th, 2011

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The Heart of Columbia Motel ( & Sportsman Restaurant), 1011 Assembly Street: 1994   26 comments

Posted at 11:48 pm in Uncategorized

The Heart of Columbia Motel and Sportsman Restaurant

1011 Assembly AStreet Columbia S.C.

Conveniently located in downtown Columbia opposite the State Capital and near University S.C.

100 Spacious Air-Conditioned & Heated Rooms * Free T.V. * High-Fi Music * 24 Hour Phone * Swimming Pool * Ice * Baby Beds * American Express Honored.

Phone AL 2-3393

I'm not sure when the postcards were made. The second one is probably from the early 1960s given the "AL" exchange prefix on the phone number. I'm sure if I knew cars better, I could peg it closer by looking at them. Certainly it would seem that 24 Hour Phone was a motel novelty at the time..

Whatever the exact year, it would be hard to argue that Heart of Columbia did not then describe the location as well name the motel. It would be harder to say that by 1983 which is when the yellow-pages ad appeared in the USC phonebook, but ironically now that the motel is long gone, the area is once again prime, very much in the Vista neighboorhood.

The way I recall The Heart of Columbia when I was growing up, and by the time I left town in 1985, is as slightly seedy and down at the heels. I specifically remember than when a cousin of mine came to town for a teachers' conference at USC, and booked a room based on proximity, she was a little unsettled by what she found, and that my father told her he wished she had called ahead so he could have warned her that he didn't think a woman should stay there by herself.

According to The State archives, the place closed in 1994, but nonetheless had an interesting history thereafter.

FIrst of all the The Thailand Restaurant moved in, presumably to the old Sportsman location.

Then on 4 May 2004, the place caught fire:


The downtown site of a restaurant and abandoned motel heavily damaged by fire early Tuesday likely will get new life, Mayor Bob Coble said.

"It is probably the most strategic piece of property for redevelopment in Columbia,"Coble said Tuesday. "I can't imagine it will stay an abandoned hotel."

Coble said the former Heart of Columbia Motel's close proximity to the convention center and center hotel, as well...

After that fire, The Thailand Restaurant moved to 6024 Saint Andrews Road.

Then the building was slated for demolition:

JOHN C. DRAKE, Staff Writer

Eight months after an errant cigarette set the building ablaze, the Heart of Columbia Motel's owners are positioning the building for demolition.

At the same time, they are facing pressure from the city to address long-standing property code violations at the condemned building.

The 40-year-old motel, which has been closed since 1994, is now a boarded-up eyesore just across Assembly Street from the State House. It was declared unsafe and condemned May 5, one day after...

Then the place caught on fire a second time:

ADAM BEAM, Staff Writer

Assembly Street building was to be torn down Monday; fire inspector suspects arson

Fire officials say arsonists set fire Wednesday afternoon to an abandoned building on Assembly Street- the second time the building has burned and just five days before it was scheduled to be torn down.

A fire investigator said there was nothing in the building to burn, and something helped "accelerate"the fire, most likely some type of liquid fuel.

Deputy Fire Chief...


Fire officials had no suspects in the arson at the Heart of Columbia motel on Assembly Street, and investigators said they might never know what type of fuel was used to burn it.

Lowell Bernstein, a Columbia lawyer whose family owns the building, said his family had already paid for the demolition and had no insurance on the building except liability.

He said the lot will be a parking lot for at least a few months while his family decides what to do with the property.

Then the place burned a third time:

ALLYSON BIRD, Staff Writer

The condemned Heart of Columbia Motel, which caught fire earlier this month and in May 2004, burned again Sunday morning.

Deputy Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said 25 firefighters responded to the fire at 8:39 a.m. at Assembly and Pendleton streets after receiving a call from the Columbia Police Department.

"We're going to treat it as an arson because there was no apparent reason for it to catch on fire,"Jenkins said. The building no longer has...

Finally it was torn down, slowly:


Demolition of the old Heart of Columbia Motel- the site of three fires since last year - has taken longer than expected because of asbestos removal, a spokesman for the property owners said.

Crews began knocking down the building's front facade Monday, a day after the third fire.

Lowell Bernstein, a lawyer whose family owns the building at Assembly and Pendleton streets near the State House, said opening up the building could stop vagrants from taking shelter there -...

As the building was demolished, The State noted a bit of music history I was unaware of:


The demolition of the Heart of Columbia Motel is taking away a piece of the city's rock 'n'roll history.

A photo of the motel's sign is on the CD jacket of Hootie &the Blowfish's breakthrough 1994 album, "Cracked Rear View,"which has sold more than 16 million copies. Other Columbia landmarks such as the State House also are pictured.

The motel stood 40 years on Assembly Street in...

(You can see the album picture here: Cracked Rear View)

After all that, we are left with a parking lot as seen in these pictures:

I'm pretty sure this was the swimming pool seen in the postcards above. I say that based on it being a hole in the ground

and having bits of blue tile mixed in with the debris:

Here is the modern day view towards the Capitol as seen in the post cards:

AND FINALLY, the Heart Of wasn't strictly a Columbia operation. I believe it was part of a loose chain. I know I have seen a number of Heart Ofs over the years, though I can no longer say where. However The Heart of Dillon is still in ongoing operation:

UPDATE 29 July 2010: Commenter Dennis sends the following document indicating that there was an annual General Assembly pool party at HOC into the late 1980s..

"The following was received.
May 26, 1987
The Honorable Samuel R. Foster, Chairman
House Invitations Committee
520 Blatt Office Building
Columbia, S.C. 29201

Dear Mr. Foster:

Gene and Joyce Stoddard cordially invite members of the House and
Senate, clerks and attached to the annual pool party at the Heart of
Columbia Motel, Wednesday, June 3, 6:30 P.M.

I appreciate you conveying this to the membership of the House.

Eugene C. Stoddard

On motion of Rep. FOSTER, with unanimous consent, the invitation was
taken up for immediate consideration and accepted."


Written by ted on July 28th, 2010

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Holiday Inn of Columbia, 505 Knox Abbott Drive: 1980s   63 comments

Posted at 12:48 am in Uncategorized

"Your Host From Coast-to-Coast"

I went looking for this building on Knox Abbott last year, and as far as I can tell, there is nothing at that address now. The postcard certainly makes what appears to be a rather nondescript building look impressive by adding a sharp car and elegant model, even if there is perhaps a touch too much of "the old South" in the pose chosen.

My experience with Holiday Inns over the years has been mixed. I currently seek out the Holiday Inn Express sites, which seem to be uniformly good. The "regular" HIs can be a mixed bag. The one I used to go to quite often in DC invariably had the freeze/bake thermostat system, and at least once seemed to have gotten the cold and hot water pipes running to my room backwards (though luckily, hot was at best "tepid" in that case).

Written by ted on July 1st, 2010

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Holiday Inn / Ramada Inn, 7510 Two Notch Road: 9 June 2010   18 comments

Posted at 10:35 pm in Uncategorized

This isn't a current events blog. I don't feel compelled to do a post on everything that closed this week. Even assuming I knew about all that, I'm just as happy to do a post on something that's been gone thirty years. On the other hand, I don't feel compelled to not do a post on something that happened yesterday, since it's kind of odd, interesting and nearby.

Commenter Jamie pointed out this story on the WLTX site:

Richland County, SC (WLTX) - Some Ramada Inn employees and customers are looking for answers after the hotel on Two Notch Road shut down suddenly.

Employees say they haven't gotten paid and customers have been showing up looking for refunds on their deposits.

"It's sad. Why would they do this? Or how could this happen," said employee Stacey Knight. Knight and her coworkers are without a job and without a paycheck. They say the owners of the Ramada Inn closed for business, padlocking the doors shut.

It's not too uncommon for employees at a restaurant to show up for work and find the place closed, but hotels are not a day-to-day business. People make long term plans involving hotels, and normally, at least for a chain hotel, I would expect some sort of orderly wind-down, with people being rebooked to alternate properties or having up-front money refunded. Apparently not so here:

There was one lady in particular that made a deposit for a family reunion, $1100, and she wanted her money back," said another employee.

I'll wager that's one family that never uses any Ramada again..

Anyway, my first memory of this property is when it was a Holiday Inn. I never stayed there (why would I need a hotel in my hometown?), but I think I did go inside once. If I recall correctly, I went with a group of friends after a wedding, probably in the late 70s or early 80s. At that time, the lounge (now McKenna's) attached to the hotel was called Pawleys (a name calculated to attract my attention), and they catered to the backgammon boomlet (which petered out not long afterwards) by having backgammon sets available in the bar area.

I believe Holiday Inn dropped the property after I-77 came through to move closer to that Interstate. For a while the place was (I think) independant, with a big sack covering up the old Holiday Inn sign.

(Hat tip to commenter Jamie.)

UPDATE 26 July 2010 -- Here are some more pictures:

UPDATE 28 August -- After commenter Matt pointed out goings on at this closed Ramada, I decided to take a look and I'm still a bit puzzled at what is happening. It looks like the whole place is being gutted, but they don't seem to be knocking it down in toto. Perhaps it will be like the old Columbia Athletic Club and Splendid China where they have replaced everything except the actual outer walls..






































UPDATE 12 September 2012 -- The whole building has now been fenced off. Driving by, I could still hear the chirps of hundreds of smoke dectectors needing new batteries..






15 June 2013:

Full demolition has started. For a long time it appeared they had only done enough demolotion to "poison-pill" the structure, ie: make sure nobody could buy it and reopen it as a motel. In these pictures, the full knockdown is well underway. Also, note the for-sale sign just off of Trenholm Extension.

14 July 2013:

Not nearly as much "progress" as you might expect, but the demolition goes on.

10 August 2013:

I had never seen a freight train stuck on this stretch of the track by Two Notch, but in this case a long train was stopped for upwards of 45 minutes, blocking off both Dawson Road & Oakway Drive. I had to go all the way down to the Two Notch / Trenholm Extension intersection to get back to the old Ramada. As I finished taking this set, train finally started to move and the railway maintainence pickup truck (fitted with track wheels) came along the tracks behind the train. What a track crew could have been fixing behind a stopped train, I'm not sure.

As you can see, the Ramada is now entirely gone except for a pump building and some incidentals like TVs and silverware.

UPDATE 17 August 2013: Added verbiage and pictures for 15 June 2013, 14 July 2013 and 10 August 2013. Also added complete photosets for those days.

UPDATE 5 December 2014 -- This is interesting. Apparently I missed it, but the property went to forced auction in August 2014. That means that whoever originally owned it tore down a perfectly good hotel property with no idea, or no workable idea, how to make money off the property any other way:








Photoset 26 August 2012
Photoset 15 June 2013
Photoset 14 July 2013
Photoset 10 August 2013

Written by ted on June 10th, 2010

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McKenzie Beach Motel, US-17 at Litchfield Beach: late 1950s   32 comments

Posted at 2:42 am in closing

This motel is a landmark which has existed for all of my life, but which I never (in memory) saw until 2006. This motel is on the east side of US-17, just south of Gullie's Shell station, and north of the Georgetown credit union. To say that by 2006 I had driven this stretch of road more than a few times understates it a bit, but I never had the least clue that there were buildings just off the road -- the whole place was so overgrown as to be completely invisible. Apparently the lot was partially cleared late in 2005, and when I was down that winter, I had quite a What the heck did I just drive by? moment as I passed by the first time after that.

Graphitti in a concrete slab at the old office building dates this place to early 1956, and the fixtures all have that mid 50s look as well. In fact, the bathroom tile looks a good bit like what I have at home which is almost exactly the same vintage. I have no idea what happened to the place. It certainly wasn't (and isn't) uncommon for Grand Strand businesses to fail, and the south strand was very isolated and non-commercialized for quite a while. For years the abandoned cabins of another motel sat at the South Causeway of Pawleys Island, more or less where the Food Lion now is. In fact for years, the only motel south of Murrells Inlet was the Quality Inn Seagull -- most people then and now rented houses to vacation in the area.

The whole area is being further cleared now, all the way back to the marsh. I suspect work would have started sooner after the initial clearing of the motel except for the economy. At any rate, I suspect the whole thing will be houses before too long, and I fully expect the motel to be knocked down before the year is out. (I've already got my shower handle, to go with my other one from Douglas.)

If anyone knows what the motel was called, when it closed, or why it closed, sound off!

Read the rest of this entry »

Dreamland Motel, 7447 Two Notch Road: 1970s   2 comments

Posted at 12:55 am in closing


Four Miles North of City Limits, U.S. Hiway No. 1, Columbia, S.C. Thirty Ultra Modern, New Units with private tile tub and shower baths. One hunder per-cent Air Conditioned. Courteous Service. Phone 33453 or write R. 3. Columbia, S.C. for reservations.

Mr. and Mrs. M. Sendler, Owners
Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Webb, Managers

Dreamland was one of the many small motels that lined Highway 1 ("The Camden Highway" it was called on that stretch) when it was a major inter-state (as opposed to "Interstate") artery. Since we lived in town and had no reason to stay in a Columbia motel, the place probably would have gone without me being fully aware it was there except that in the 70s we had swimming lessons there.

I'm not sure how it works today, except that it's different, but in the 70s, it seemed that most swimming lessons were sponsored, or perhaps just certified, by The Red Cross. They had a standardized curriculum with different proficency levels. The ones I recall were: Beginner, Advanced Beginer and Intermediate. I suppose there may have been an Advanced somewhere, but I never got that far. In fact, I think I had Advanced Beginner about three times. To a certain extent this was just to get us out of the house during the summer and I don't think my mother was overly concerned about the "level" we were taking as long as they covered the "don't drown" part.

As you can see by the Yellow Pages ad, by 1970, Dreamland found itself by the new I-20. I guess this had plusses, but the minuses were that the Interstates were homogenizing the country to the extent that people expected a national brand motel at an "I" exit, and that the long-haul traffic on US-1 was drying up. That's my speculation at any rate. Whatever the reason, they decided to make a little money by holding swimming lessons in the motel pool. My mother liked this as she could in theory drop us off there and then go to K-Mart or the grocery store for an hour or so before coming back for us. I don't remember much abou the lessons, I suspect it was another Advanced Beginner session, and we did in fact get through the "don't drown" part.

A few years after that, Dreamland was torn down to make way for the Spring Valley Theater which was in turn torn down to make way for Lowes (which is still there). The picture above is of the Lowe's parking lot more or less where I think the theater and motel were.

UPDATE 13 October 2009: Added scanned postcard and the text from the back.

Written by ted on April 18th, 2009

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Howard Johnson's Motel, 200 Zimalcrest Drive: 1980s(?)   4 comments

Posted at 1:39 pm in closing

It always impresses me how easy it is to take a well known, well regarded brand and run it into the ground. There's no reason carved in stone as to why Sears shouldn't be the country's number one retailer. They had universal market penetration, a trusted image and core products that were consumer touchstones for quality: Craftsman, Kenmore & Diehard. Yet with all that going for them, they still fell asleep at the wheel and let Wal-Mart and even Target eat their lunch.

Something similar happened to Howard Johnson. At one time they were so ubiquitous and well known that Mel Brooks could joke about it in Blazing Saddles and be confident that everyone would get it. The chain is still around, but it's certainly not what it was. The location on Bush river continues in business as a hotel (the one in Cayce with the Cinderella carraige is boarded up). I think it's one of those generic sounding chains now with, I'm guessing, a low franchise fee. It's also got one of Columbia's several Indian restaurants. The time I went there, the food was fine, but the service was a bit slow -- it's changed ownership at least twice since then though. (My favorite Indian restaurant continues to be The Delhi Palace in another hotel over on Broad River).

(By the way, if you can't see the cat in the last picture when you click for full-size, then your browser is automatically scaling images for you, which is, in my opinion, bad. You can fix it in the browser settings [it's different for Internet Explorer and Firefox].)

Written by ted on June 10th, 2008

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