Postcard circa 1950s: Courtesy of Dan Doanhue
Brochure circa 1960
Springfield, Virginia
 -- Shilrey Hwy @ Franconia Rd (6310 Augusta Dr.)


Having begun existence as the Skylark Motel, the property was converted into a Howard Johnson's complex in 1958. It is believed to have been the second Virginia Motor Lodge--perhaps hanging its HJ shingle just prior to the purpose-built Hollins Motor Lodge. At the dawn of the Motor Lodge concept, the Company permitted a limited number of conversions, and even later a few were added to the fold in New York state and in New England. However as a rule Howard Johnson's were purpose-built following standardized plans to further cement HoJo's identity into the mind's of the public.

Of the conversions, Springfield was unique in that an A-frame Gate Lodge was added to the pre-existing motel. Moreover it was among the first Gate Lodges to have been built!


The Incomparable Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge
...15 minutes South of Washington D. C. on Shirley Freeway, Routes 95, 350 and 495 (Capital Beltway) at Franconia-Springfield exit, Springfield, Va.

Phone Washington D. C. 703-451-4000

125 Air-Conditioned Sound Proof Units, Singles, Doubles, Studios, Suites, Telephones and TV in every room, Swimming Pool, Playground...Beauty Shop, Howard Johnson's Restaurant
T.V. Channels 4, 5, 7, and 9


Above: Notice the odd pool arrangement. While it was a large swimming pool, it had almost no deck. In fact the Lodge's guests had to sit outside the pool's fence on the grass.  

Double Bedroom of 125 completely air-conditioned units. Here you can see why Howard Johnson's Motor Lodges are so famous for spacious and sparkling clean rooms. Each unit is luxuriously carpeted and the stunning decor is the last word in comfort and luxury. Each unit also has its own tiled shower bath.Just look at these facilities. Ever seen anything like this before? Of course you haven't--because never, outside of a lavish private residence, has such spacious comfort, practical convenience and ingenious use of space ever existed before. And the extras you'll enjoy at a Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge at no extra cost: Big-screen television, 24-hour telephone service, air-conditioning, sound-proofing so perfect you can hear a pin drop, swimming pool, play areas, and more...

Below: The "big-screen" TV with four channels the brochure raved about, was black and white and at most a 19" set. Golly, and 24 hour phone service too--what a different time it was!

Nonetheless at least Springfield's proprietor made great effort to create the feeling that the former Skylark motel was a Howard Johnson's. Today where absolutely NO effort is made to standardize rooms, Springfield's were given the HoJo treatment. Moreover, with the Gate Lodge right along I-95 for all to see, there could have been little doubt in patron's minds that the place was a genuine HoJo's.


Aerial image © Microsoft corp.

For such an early Motor Lodge, Springfield lasted as a Howard Johnson's a respectable twenty-two years. It is not clear what became of the Motor Lodge after 1980, but the Restaurant lived on to see another day. Perhaps relinquishing the HJ name at the same time as the Motor Lodge, the Restaurant suddenly reappeared as a stand-alone location in the last couple of Howard Johnson Company directories. Listed in the National Restaurant Association's membership directory of 1988, the site was owned by the Lewis Restaurant Corp of Lynchburg which also owned the Lynchburg Restaurant.

Below and Lower: Eventually no trace of the Springfield complex remained. With the site so close to the highway and near the infamous Springfield Interchange (I was actually rear-ended at the "mixing bowl" almost within view of where the HoJo's once stood), new alignments of roadway no doubt necessitated demolition. Interestingly a Bob Evans came to occupy the spot where the Howard Johnson's Restaurant had once stood boldly facing Shirley Highway.