Brochure circa 1950s: Dan Donahue
Savannah, Georgia --3710 Ogeechee Rd. (U.S. 17 & 17A S @ Jct of Loop 26)

Howard Johnson's Restaurants were well established along the nations highways by the middle of the twentieth century when the first Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge was franchised in 1953. Believed to have been influenced by his son, Howard B., Howard D. had already seen the success of motels which had been built adjacent to his restaurants and a plan was outlined to make Howard Johnson's a household name in lodging too. As early as 1950 an article in Architectural Record speculated that it was time for there to be a national motel chain, and that the Howard Johnson Company would be the most appropriate candidate to enter the field!

You would have thought that Howard D. Johnson would have learned from his restaurant experience the importance of having a standard image, which of course should have incorporated the orange roof among other details, but when this first Motor Lodge opened on December 3, 1953 it had none of the design features that came to distinguish Howard Johnson's Motor Lodges. You see, it was a pre-existing Mt. Vernon-esque motel adjacent to a Howard Johnson's Restaurant, and it was merely "converted" with the placement of signage and a weathervane! Of course back in middle 1950s, the whole idea of a motel chain was a novel notion with no model to follow (Holiday Inn while it existed by this time had not yet devised a successful franchising scheme nor did it necessarily have a standardized building plan). With some trial and error, the more or less standard Motor Lodge design wouldn't fully arrive until about 1960.

Postcards circa 1950s-1970s: Kummerlowe
Like the first half-a-dozen or so Motor Lodges, Savannah was a member of the Superior Motor Court referral chain. It is likely that prior to its conversion as a Howard Johnson's that its proprietor was also a member of Blue Ribbon Courts and retained that membership briefly following conversion.
ABOVE: The aerial view of the Shamrock Pool was an idea at least 60 years ahead of its time since drone photography was yet to be invented!
Brochure circa 1950s: Dan Donahue

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