It would seem as though we are in something of a golden-age for decidedly kitschy, throwback motels, much to the benefit of lodgings which have virtually maintained the same decor since they were first erected. However, a few of these nostalgia-inducing motels did not survive the transition between past and present, and were regrettably demolished. This post will take a wistful look back at 3 demolished motels from popular US vacation destinations, Las Vegas, Wildwood, and Atlanta, that will sadly never get the chance to be rediscovered by generations to come.
The Glass Pool Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though it was originally called the Mirage before the name was famously purchased for a hefty sum and re-attributed to a more iconic, ever-present hotel, the Glass Pool Inn derives its name from the motel’s defining design element: a charming above-ground pool with a windowed, see-through structure. Although The Mirage’s pools are more modernized and luxurious, the Glass Pool Inn had a palpable charm, even if the pool’s shallow construction was the cause of certain unfortunate mishaps. The pool’s iconic look made it a prime spot for video shoots, and its legacy lives on in music videos by ZZ Top and Robert Plant. Director Tim Burton even went as far as to recreate the pool using CGI for the Killers’ 2007 video “Bones”, years after the motel was demolished. I can only imagine the renewed success the motel would have achieved if only it were spared from being destroyed, much like other Vegas landmarks like the Hotel Riviera, which met a similar fate only a few years ago. Luckily there are beautiful photos to preserve its memory, yet there is a bittersweetness to the bygone, simplistic luxury that these demolished motels represented.
The Carousel Motel, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Attaining a pinnacle of exuberant playfulness, this carousel-themed motel in the Wildwood Crest would have clearly benefited from the resurgent interest in retrograde kitsch. With its multicolored doors and the majestic horse resting atop its sign, the motel was an infinitely luminous presence that captured the saturated ebullience of an old-school county fair, fitting in perfectly with Wildwood’s whirlwind of beach-town extravagance. In spite of its singular flavor, the motel sadly did not make it far into the 21st century, closing down in 2004 only to be demolished in 2008.
The Atlanta Cabana Motel, Atlanta, Georgia
With 200 rooms and a decidedly showy design, the Atlanta Cabana Motel is yet another lodging that was unfortunately subject to demolition at the turn of the millenium. A project helmed by Jay Sarno, who later went on to take part in the design of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the Cabana was a tourist hotspot in Atlanta for many years, before things took a turn at the latter end of the 80’s, leading to the motel’s conversion into a Quality Inn. Though the motel opened in 1958, its forward-thinking design showed early traces of the postmodernist architecture that would dominate the 1960’s. While its appearance is fairly conservative compared to the other motels we have looked at so far, the Atlanta Cabana’s large turquoise-tiled wall injected the building with a loveable kitsch factor that would no doubt be the source of renewed appreciation from retro-obsessed future generations. The motel was a majestic presence in Atlanta, which is why so many people mourned its 2002 demolition, a sentiment which Jay Buono encapsulated perfectly in his eulogy for the building’s demolition.
Surely, these beautifully-designed motels would have found a renewed sense of purpose in recent years, given our current obsession with all things retro and kitsch. I can definitely say that I, personally, would have loved to have been able to visit these iconic pieces of American history.