Postcards ca. 1940s: Kummerlowe Archive
North Conway , New Hampshire --1439 White Mountain Highway
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:

The North Conway store was opened in the mid-1930s, in the heart of the North Conway shopping and skiing district. Located at the junction of Routes 16 and 302 (1439 White Mountain Highway), this HJ franchise was in a prime position to attract motorists heading north to Crawford Notch and the White Mountains from points east and south. By the 1930s, North Conway was already becoming a hot bed for activity. It was a gateway to the White Mountains, a resting place for travelers who were road-weary and ready to eat. Restaurants, cabins, motor courts, and shops began springing up everywhere as North Conway was quickly accepted as a “last chance” stop before reaching the mountains. Moreover, nearby Mount Cranmore, with its world-renowned skimobile tram, was vastly appealing to visitors, drawing in leaf peepers in the fall and ski trains up from Boston all throughout the winter months. Continued growth in the area ultimately lead to shops and stores themselves becoming a major attraction, drawing people in. All told, North Conway was an ideal market for HJ to erect one of its stands.

Postcard ca. 1950s: Nate Coggeshall-Beyea

The North Conway store was originally conceived as a way to either supplement or replace an already growing cabin business. Hello Bill White Mountain Mineral Camps had operated at this site since approximately 1922 (these cabins later served as accommodations for many of the workers at HJ). Given North Conway’s strong affiliation with skiing, a ski lodge motif was chosen for the new HJ restaurant. The end result was a warm and cozy retreat for skiers and other area visitors. The restaurant featured a beautiful stone fireplace and hearth, made from native New Hampshire granite. Positioned prominently in the middle of the dining room, the granite fireplace was certainly the centerpiece of the North Conway store. The ceiling was composed largely of exposed beams and rafters, again hinting at a ski lodge them.

Word has it that Howard D. Johnson used to visit the North Conway store often and was good friends with the owners. According to a current employee, a humorous situation occurred here back in the HJ days. Apparently, there was a waitress who went out to the kitchen and asked for a hot dog for one of her patrons. Upon hearing her request, the cook gently grabbed her by the arm, lead here out to the dining room where there was a portrait of HDJ, and told her that they were not called hot dogs, that they were called Frankforts, and that she should never call them hot dogs again. Folklore or not, the story highlights the strict ideals that HJ imposed on its franchises, especially in the early years. Hundreds of miles away from the home base, North Conway was no exception.

Fantastic photos 1971: Dan Donahue
The North Conway Howard Johnson's was a non-standard building, and it predated Howard Johnson's signature orange porcelain enamel roof tiles. The unit initially featured asphalt shingles that were painted orange, and then later an orange metal roof was installed since retrofitting the restaurant with porcelain enamel tiles proved problematic. The location's original HoJo's circa 1930s street sign was what Chester Liebs in his book, Main Street to Miracle Mile, called "a broken pediment and urn motif designed to cash in on the public's positive associations with all things colonial." During the 1940s the colonial-type sign was replaced with a streamlined version seen in the terrific photos above and below, but unlike a few other installations was apparently never topped with a two-sided neon Simple Simon and the Pieman figural.
Photo August 1980: Bob Venditti
Above: Perhaps the last view as a Howard Johnson's available!! Note the "woodie" stationwagen--appears to be a Mercury--awesome photo, thanks Bob!
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