Rockingham Post-Dispatch in 1953 chronicled the exciting news that
the citizenry of Richmond County were soon to enjoy their very own
Howard Johnson's Restaurant! The first of the headlines read, "Deed
Howard Johnson Filed."
by researcher, Robby Delius, the first article published on April
16, 1953 announced that "plans have been drawn and bids asked
for contractors for the proposed new Howard Johnson restaurant to
be built half a mile south of Rockingham on Highway 1." The
deed indicated that the site consisted of 1.34 acres and was purchased
for a sum of $8,000. Principles in the project were Mitchall Wallace
and Stafford and Associates (along with George K. Kaster who owned
the adjacent Sandman Motel). Chartered in March of 1953, the parties
created Anchor Enterprises to own and manage the franchised Howard
Post-Dispatch breathlessly announced in the afternoon edition on
May 7, 1953 that "Restaurant Contract is let to Dickerson of
Monroe. Another Unit in the Howard Johnson Chain. Be Ready by Sept.
1st?" Interestingly the May 7th piece reported that J. A. Cicco
was the Restaurant's architect. Cicco was the chief architect of
the Howard Johnson Company, and thus Rockingham's plans were standard
in the last article unearthed by Mr. Delius and published on September
17, 1953, the nearly open eatery was described as "one of the
handsomest and most complete restaurants in the South." Its
opening was pushed back to September 28, 1953 and was initially
managed by Tom Evans who had operated a Howard Johnson's in Charlotte.
The restaurant was said to seat 83 and had been built at a cost
Rockingham was a Howard Johnson's from 1953 until 1972.