Howard Johnson's, Collinsville, Illinois
Photo April 1992: Scott Sargent
 Collinsville, Illinois --301 N Bluff Rd

Built at what might be called the eastern gateway to St Louis where I-70, I-55, U.S. 40, and the famed Route 66 meet, the Collinsville Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge and Restaurant complex was opened in the winter of 1964. Moreover the area where it had been sited became a mini-mecca of hospitality offerings.

Photos April 1993: Scott Sargent
Above & Below: Its 89 rooms having been refurbished during the middle 1980s near the end of the Howard Johnson Company's existence, Collinsville's guest rooms maintained their standardized decor into the early 1990s.
1965-1966 Great Lakes AAA Tour Book: page 131

Photos 2003: Todd Roberstson

Owned by one Patel or another from at least the early 1990s, the Motor Lodge had lost more than its solid reputation and curb appeal by the end of its days. Note that its last owner, Vithalbhai Patel, was fined $30,000.00 for improperly handling the guest buildings' asbestos during the property's last remodel. Ironically the fine was imposed after the entire site had been razed to make way for the 53 acre $78 million big box retail center called Collinsville Crossing!

Above & Below: All of the sliders were removed during the early 2000s, but on one guest wing exterior entry was preserved by means of doorways.

Photos September 2004: Phil Edwards
Photos March 2003: Todd Robertson
Above, Below & Lower: Collinsvilles's signature A-frame Gate Lodge stood for nearly forty years! Upon Todd Robinson's 2003 visit the Gate lodge had been vacated and was slated for demolition (its demolition was unrelated to the entire site's subsequent demolition, for it was razed to make way for the restaurant's reuse as an adult book store which never materialized).
Photo: Todd Robertson
Above & below: A new lobby was constructed behind the former site of the Gate lodge which included second floor living quarters for the Patels.
Photos September 2004: Phil Edwards

Photos March 2003: Todd Robertson

According to local sources Colinsville's Howard Johnson's Restaurant was the last operating Orange Roofed eatery in the Land O' Lincoln. Incredibly it maintained its form until 2003 when it last functioned as a nightclub called Snifers. Note the decorative "Arizona Cactus" stone treatment and the "Collinsville, Illinois" name banner to the right of the primary entryway!

In its final days the former Host of the Highways Orange Roofed Howard Johnson's Restaurant was mired in controversy after the property was purchased by Jerry Brink owner of BZ Enterprises, for he determined to convert the long-time most wholesome of wholesome family oriented establishments into an adult XXX emporium called Rodao Drive. Having purchased the site in 2001, Brink endeavored to recycle the property rendering it unrecognizable. Meanwhile local authorities thwarted his futile efforts leading him to admit defeat by November 2003. Then a fire on January 26, 2005 which was determined to have been arson sealed the site's ultimate fate.

Perhaps as suspicious as the fire, a year earlier Collinsville's City Council decreed to grant a $19 million taxpayer funded incentive package to Missouri based Koman properties which had proposed to re-develop the already long developed 53 acre site where the Howard Johnson's had been located along with several other businesses as well as a mobile home park with dozens of residents who would be rendered homeless into a $70 million plus big box retail project called Collinsville Crossings anchored by a Walgreens, Walmart Supercenter, and an outlet of The Home Depot. After a brief delay by the developer, the Belleville News-Democrate reported that the former Howard Johnson's complex as well as all other obstacles had been completely leveled by the end of 2005 or early 2006--thus Collinsville's example of "America's Landmark" stood for more than forty years. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century no trace of it or any of its adjacent classic mid 20th century hospitality offerings remained.

Above: In recognizable form, the Collinsville former HoJo's Restaurant advertised itself with its 1960s "Collinsville name banner" even as it had ceased being a Howard Johnson's probably during the 1980s!

Below: Remodeled and unrecognizable, the former Restaurant did not win approval to be redeveloped as a XXX adult emporium and then suffered a terminal fire determined to have been arson prior to its demolition and subsequent redevelopment as part of the Collinsville Crossing's parking lot.

Photo: Todd Robertson
Photo September 2004: Phil Edwards

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