Images Copyright 2000 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
A last Hurrah
Immediately following Belle Vernon's February of 1999 closure, a team from Paramount Pictures transformed the area around the restaurant into a mini-mecca of roadside hospitality services for the forgettable 2000 movie Wonder Boys starring Michael Douglas, Toby McGuire and others. All of it was fake save for the Howard Johnson's.


Above: Paramount's movie magic created a fantastic streamlined moderne 1940s style roadside neon sign reminiscent of HoJo's long past (check out Niagara Falls for an example).

Below: Note the attention to detail indicated by the recreated Simple Simon and the Pieman figural behind Michael Douglas not to mention the extra-large "Howard Johnson's" letters on the roof!


Above: Note the dimmed out Exxon sign and fake motel sign behind Toby McGuire's head as well as the circa 1990s FAI advertising poster that was in the Restaurant's vestibule.

Below: Although the Johnson Girl's uniform is the wrong color, it is reminiscent of JG's uniforms from the 1950s. Note that she is handing Toby McGuire an actual Howard Johnson's FAI menu.


Photograph May 10, 1997
Photographs August 1999

Above & Below: Shuttered for good when the movie crew left, Belle Vernon had been demolished by the summer of 1999. Only a small pile of debris marked its site--bits of the decorative concrete block wing walls and a couple of Orange Roof tiles were all that remained.

Lower: Not long after the demolition there was no trace of what had been "America's Landmark" --just a Burger King and a BP station/store...

Photograph courtesy of Phil Edwards