Seeing a First and a Nearly Last

When I heard that the very first motel was constructed in San Luis Obispo I resolved to look it up. The Milestone Mo-Tel building dates back to 1925. Arthur Heinman had it built, and he also coined the word motel to combine motor and hotel. He dreamed big, this Milestone Mo-Tel was to be the first in a franchise, however the Great Depression crushed expansion. Eventually the motel became known as the Motel Inn. In 1991 the motel closed, and since that time the structures have been slowly torn down. All that remains right now is a remodeled version of the main office, a wall from one of the side buildings, and the old road sign.

All that remains of the Motel Inn, the first motel.

All that remains of the Motel Inn, the first motel.

The last standing wall (looking a bit unstable).

The last standing wall (looking a bit unstable).

A commemorative plaque on the side of the office building.

A commemorative plaque on the side of the office building.

Much of the grounds require imagination, for the structures no longer exist.

Much of the grounds require imagination, for the structures no longer exist.

After seeing the first motel I walked to another noteworthy building in town. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s final designs is located in town. Wright designed the commercial building for Dr. Kundert, a Wright admirer who paid $1,500 for the design. The design was drawn in 1955 and constructed the following year (the year Wright died). The building sits on a creek bank, with thick tree cover on the creek side of the building. (The creek is on the far side of the building in the picture below.)

One of the last buildings Frank Lloyd Wright designed.

One of the last buildings Frank Lloyd Wright designed.

The detail on the building is interesting.

The detail on the building is interesting.

Sources:

Zorn, Eric. 2006. World’s first motel a site worth saving. Chicago Tribune.

Jones, Kevin. 2013. Frank Lloyd Wright building in SLO. Realty Professionals.

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