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 Former HoJo's: Lima, OH

Plans all askew from my encounter with the Parkway Inn, I nearly missed Lima's former Howard Johnson's.  Had I researched better, and discovered that it was a Super 8, I most certainly would have driven the additional few miles to have stayed in it rather than the one in Wapakoneta. While the Restaurant was long ago replaced by a now defunct Shoney's, the Motor Lodge is in remarkably good HoJo-like condition.

The first of several unexpected finds, Findlay proved to be the most unusual. Only open for about four years in the middle 1970s, Findlay is unlike any Howard Johnson's I have ever seen, for it is a small mansard structure set apart from other roadside restaurants with a 1965 HoJo's type A-frame capped with a cupola-tower. If not for the owner insisting that it had been a HoJo's, I might have passed it off as an impostor.

 Former HoJo's: Findlay, OH
Just before meeting up with Dan in Detroit, I was able to make a quick lunch stop at the former Monroe Howard Johnson's. Complete with its Dairy Bar, Monroe had changed hands about six months prior to my visit and was called the International Cafe & Restaurant. Its Motor Lodge, which had ceased its Days Inn affiliation a couple of years ago, still had an interior passageway from the Restaurant into the Gate Lodge. 

 Former HoJo's: Monroe, MI

 Crowne Plaza, Romulus, MI
Arriving at Detroit's airport just in time for Dan's arrival, I had hoped to meet him in the baggage claim area, but instead missed him by moments. Since a Crowne Plaza was nearby we had agreed to spend the first night there rather than a former HoJo's. Fortunately I walked into the hotel's lobby just as Dan was checking in, and so we could begin our epic journey seeking HoJo's through Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio!  
Not wanting to waste any time, we quickly checked out the Crowne Plaza, and then headed to see what was nearby. Figuring that Wyandotte was only about fifteen minutes away, we struck out for it to discover that a fire station occupied its site. Not deterred, we headed up to the former Dearborn location on Telegraph road which I had seen back in 2001, and Terry Burns had documented while it was being renovated. As a 5/3rd bank branch, it's hard to believe that it was ever a restaurant much less a thriving Orange roofed HoJo's. Before heading back to the Crowne Plaza, we decided to check out the former Belleville Restaurant which Terry Burns likes to call Pagoda Joe's! No sign of its adjacent Motor Lodge exists.

 Former HoJo's: Dearborn, MI

 Former HoJo's: Belleville, MI

 The Henry Ford: Dearborn, MI
With rain in the forecast, we decided to spend part of the next day at the Henry Ford museum. Although the museum has lost some of its focus and has been distracted with Quilts and Civil Rights, it houses a terrific collection of roadside history. One exhibit traces the evolution of roadside lodging from autocamping to Holiday Inn, and another features a diner.
Official Site:

Hoping to find HoJo's remains around Detroit, it was instead striking to discover the city's crumbling streets and numerous large buildings apparently awaiting demolition. Looking like it was in a war zone, the remains of Michigan's Central Station serve as a symbol of urban decay and waste at its worst. The station once offered a complete array of services, all in a very elegant setting.

Louis Van Winkle wrote the following brief description of the Central Station: "The general waiting room has 76-foot high ceilings, huge arches, carved plaster decoration and marble columns. There was a separate waiting room for women in the northeast corner of the building, a reading room in the northwest corner, and a smoking room toward the back of the building. There was a dining room with a vaulted stone ceiling, a lunch counter, and a cafe. There was a drug store, cigar store, barbershop and a newsstand. There were baths and changing rooms for those wishing to freshen-up without going to a hotel. "
Additional information 1, 2, 3

Central Station: Detroit, MI


 Remains of Central Station: Detroit, MI

Cadillac Hotel: Detroit, MI

Former HJ: Detroit, MI
Of course the rain did not help Detroit look better, but the abandoned bombed out buildings gave the city a dismal atmosphere. I wonder how much of our Federal tax money has been squandered on "renewal" projects. Interestingly, the former Howard Johnson's-Downtown in its Holiday Inn Express disguise appeared to be doing a "land-office" business. Just across the street from the Holiday Inn Express is the hulk of what was once the Book-Cadillac Hotel. Reportedly it is undergoing a $160 million rehabilitation, perhaps it will be a rare success story amidst the ruins of Detroit.
Additional Information about the Book-Cadillac 1, 2, 3

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