David Louis Motel Sign

David Louis Motel SignHere’s another dip into the Terry Hopkins General Sign box.

When I was doing daily picture pages at The Athens Messenger, I had a technique for having an easy day. I’d shoot something like a old general store and run an outside photo on Monday with the caption, “Tomorrow we’ll go inside.” That let me get a two-fer out of the story.

This is going to be somewhat like that. Today we’ll look at a sign advertising the David Louis Motel, a name that didn’t stick around long. The next day, we’ll go into the history of the renamed motel and see photos of what is there today. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

My perspective has changed

David Louis Motel SignI spent years editing my shooting session down to the most striking and story-telling image and ignoring the rest because newspaper space was finite.

Hanging around with museum folks like Carla Jordan in Altenburg and Curator Jessica in Athens has given me a totally different perspective: I crop more loosely to keep background objects visible and I run more photos that are similar but contain slightly different details. It’s those little details that I used to crop out that contain valuable historical information.

This is a good example. The picture at the top of the page shows the sign best, but looking off to the left edge of the frame above shows the old Alvarado service station and restaurant with its sign proclaiming “The Best in Foods” on its side.

Ward’s Big Star

David Louis Motel SignA frame from a slightly different angle shows the yellow sign for Ward’s Big Star Super Market at the left. I can remember going in there lots of times with Mother.

The store must have been getting bread deliveries: that’s a Hart’s Bread truck on the left and a Bunny Bread truck on the right.

The two red trucks are from Central Asphalt. I thought maybe they were paving the parking lot, but the lot is full of cars.It looks like they may be working behind Ward’s.

There’s no date stamp on the slide mounts. Anybody want to guess about when it was taken based on the cars in the photos?

The trees are devoid of leaves, so it must be either fall or winter. The day is warm enough that the man driving by has his window down, but chilly enough that he’s wearing a long-sleeve shirt.


10 Replies to “David Louis Motel Sign”

  1. These pictures were taken between Thanksgiving and Christmas, probably 1957 or 1958 based on the cars in the pictures and the Christmas trees lined up against the west wall of the Big Star.

    1. There is a 1957 Chevy Bel Air in the first picture, so 1957 would be the earliest it could be. Another, less likely possibility would be 1966, the year Ward’s remodeled their store, but I believe they changed the sign out front when that remodel happened.

      More on topic would be the acknowledgement that the David Louis Motel later became what most of us would recognize as the Sands Motel.

  2. I will go with Keith,but I will venture out and say about 1955-1960. You would have to date the Hotel then the cars. Either way, that is a whole era, that I was to young to appreicate.

  3. WOO HOO! That’s me! Or at least mom and dad named the motel after me. The reason for the name change??? Well, my sister Barbara (who died 3 years ago today) was born in 1955. Mom and Dad didn’t want to play favorites with their kids’ names, so after a short-lived attempt to market the “Barbara Belt” (a child’s restraint belt that would never have passed any kind of safety test), they decided to even us out by changing the name of the motel. They had visited Las Vegas for a Best Western motel convention, and saw the Sands Motel there. They discovered that the name was not copyrighted, and changed the name. General Sign Company built the new sign that had lights that appeared to move down an arrow toward the soon-to-be built pool.
    I suspect the time was somewhere about 1957 or later.
    There is one more thing about this sign’s placement. It was across the street from the then-new Town House Motel. The Town House was (at that time) the newest and largest motel in Cape. It was more modern looking, and since this was before I-55 was built, if you were coming from the south you would have to go all the way through Cape to get to our motel. So Dad decided to erect a sign just before you would get to the Town House (just) 1-½ mile on the right (opposite of the Town House!).
    We had good relations with the owners of all the motels in Cape. We would call each other to try to get someone a room if we were full. We were good competitors. This brings back great memories and helps me remember my sister and my dad. She was a bright light in our lives and he was a keen business man. Thanks for this trip down memory lane!

    1. David, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. It’ll go into the history of the motel and Pancake House.

      My brother’s name is David Louis Steinhoff and we lived just up the road from it. I’m sure he was sorry to see the name changed.

  4. My family lived next door to the David Lewis motel from the first Dad bought a couple of acres “out there” when it was a long way from town. I was somewhat surprised at his foresight, as the city kept moving west…of course, there was no other direction to grow. For a few months, I worked as a night clerk at the David Lewis. Wish I had some colorful stories to share about drunks and hookers. Maybe I should make some up…like the time Tempest Storm, the famous stripper, checked in with a troupe of drunk midget jugglers…

    1. David, I ran across an account of that Tempest Storm affair. The copy wasn’t exactly clear, so I couldn’t quite make out the name of the night clerk. Thanks for filling in that detail.

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