Postcard ca. 1970s: Kummerlowe Archive
Manchester, New Hampshire -- 298 Queen City Blvd.

Having begun in 1959 as a Nims-type Restaurant only, the Howard Johnson's Manchester site became a complete complex when in 1972 its adjacent ultra-modern five story high-rise Motor Lodge was opened. Featuring 100+ standardized guest rooms, meeting rooms, saunas, indoor heated pool, and an exercise room, the Motor Lodge's exterior was "1970s modern" with its prominent blocky angled concrete yet softened by sections of exposed natural brick. Ahead of its time, Manchester's Motor Lodge foretold the future of highway hostelry function and layout! The Motor Lodge relinquished its Howard Johnson identity in early 1997, and was converted into a Comfort Inn.

Below: The property diagram shows Manchester's ground level. Note that the Nims-type Restaurant faced Daniel Webster Highway and was not oriented to 2nd Street like the Motor Lodge. The Restaurant itself is no longer extant.

Borchure ca 1980s: Dan Donahue
The following commentary is provided by Nate Coggeshall-Beyea who has extensively studied and documented the history and development of Howard Johnson's in New Hampshire:

Located at 298 Queen City Boulevard, the Manchester HJ represented New Hampshire’s only restaurant and high-rise motor lodge unit. High-rise motor lodges were becoming more and more common within the HJ empire by the early 1960s, especially in high-traffic urban areas where demand for overnight accommodations was significant. As New Hampshire’s premiere city, Manchester seemed a logical choice for one of these larger motor lodge units. Likewise, Queen City Boulevard, the main route through the heart of downtown Manchester, was an ideal roadway selection for a HJ complex, offering it excellent visibility and thus steady patronage. Queen City Boulevard was U.S. Route 3 as well as Manchester’s central artery. All motorists traveling in and out of the city passed over this road during their excursions. Therefore, it quickly became the focal point of roadside and streetside commerce inside Manchester.

Running parallel to Queen City Boulevard and also through the center of the city was Interstate 293, a new superhighway that branched off from I-93 just north of the city and rejoined it again just south of the city (I-93 followed the outskirts of Manchester, whereas I-293 offered drivers passage directly through the city). I-293 and Queen City Boulevard (Route 3) interchanged at an area known locally as the Queen City Bridge, located at the south end of Manchester. Given the shear volume of traffic flowing over both of these roads, the Queen City Bridge interchange was one of the largest crossroads in Manchester and perhaps all of New Hampshire. True to form, it is here, at this busy intersection and amidst the merging and converging of motorists, that HJ opened its new high-rise establishment in 1972.

The Manchester restaurant began operations around 1960, with its first known directory listing in that year. Although the exact architectural style of Manchester is unknown (due to substantial altering in later years), it seems probable that this location originally featured a Nims Two type restaurant. Located to the left, the restaurant was connected directly to the later built motor lodge, with an indoor corridor between the two facilities.

The Manchester HJ was owned and operated by the same interests that managed the motor lodge in Portsmouth and later took over operation of the adjacent restaurant there. Manchester was a very profitable franchise for HJ and its owners, retaining the HJ moniker well into the 1990s. This can be tied directly to its outstanding location in a high-travel city, clearly the ideal environment for an HJ. Rather than ever displacing it, the Manchester store worked in tandem with the Hooksett store to corner the Manchester market from both the north and the south. These two HJs maintained a tight grip on the area for many years. The Manchester motor lodge was one of the last three HJ entities to operate in New Hampshire, standing firm against the shifting tides along with Portsmouth and Nashua. But alas, by the late 1990s, HJ was gone from Manchester, giving way to increasing competition and other business pressures.

Postcard ca. 1970s: Kummerlowe Archive

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