Gate Lodge at Howard Johnson’s Motel (1960)
Albany, New YorkHoward Johnson’s became a household name between its founding in 1925 and 1954 as it grew to be the largest franchise restaurant chain in America with 400 locations. Its signature orange roof building design was an architectural hallmark for the family-style food it became successful for in attracting patron’s appetites.
In 1959, company operations were turned over to Johnson’s son, Howard Brennan Johnson. Architect Rufus Nims had recently designed a new modern motel for Howard Johnson’s with a hip roof, wide overhang, large plate glass windows, and no dormers, and the company was likely seeking a way to make the design stand out from the restaurants and earlier motel versions. They hired William F. Cann of the Bank Building & Equipment Corporation to design a new structure to blend with the new motel lodge building, but stand out separately in order to function as a grand welcome station where visitors would check into the motel.
The earliest known A-frame Gate Lodge was likely in New Castle, DE dating from 1958. The Howard Johnson Company began promoting the A-frame design in advertising and literature as early as September 1958 according to U.S. Patent Office records and it was used throughout the 1960s and 70s. Miami Beach's Gate Lodge remained the least altered of the several hundred that were built until it was demolished in July 2006. Today there are no extant, unaltered gate lodges remaining.
See photos of the Albany Gate Lodge (1960) at Howard Johnson’s Motel, one of the few remaining in nearly unaltered condition.
Research credit: Rich Kummerlowe.
See additional examples of the Gate Lodge design for Howard Johnson’s:
By Rich Kummerlowe on Highwayhost:
- Southington, Connecticut (c. 1960)
- Daytona Beach (north), Florida
- Miami Beach, Florida
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Albany, New York (c. 1960 with original drawings)
- Bethlehem-Allentown, Pennsylvania
By Debra Jane on Agilitynut: