Palmer's Hillcrest Motel
As I pulled up and started shooting what's left of a neat old motel sign, I noticed an older gentleman who seemed to be inspecting each room. Mind you, the motel is closed, it's lot roped off, but it looks like it's still being cared for.
As I got back in the trucklet, another old timer pulled up in a pickup on the other side of the rope. I'd guess he was in his late 70's, perhaps 80's. He waved slowly, I waved, then I got the feeling he wanted to talk to me, so I decided to get back out and see what he had to say, even if it was yelling at me for photographing his sign.
He was Frank Palmer, the owner, and turned out to be a nice guy. He told me how he'd had that sign (he called it "a beauty", and I agreed) for 50 years, and how it'd survived every hurricane until Katrina. Katrina finally did the damage you see here. The office is a rounded affair. Nothing fancy, but added a touch of coolness to the place. Frank pointed out where a "danged truck" had turned around in the lot, damaging the overhang. That's when he roped off the entire parking lot. He pointed to the building immediately next to the office, and told me that it was the cafe for the motel at one time. It'd been a couple other restaurants since, now closed. He went on to explain that he also had a gas station there in the early days. Then he asked me "Are you interested in buying a motel? It's all for sale, you know." I asked why, and he said "Age. Age is catching up to me, it's just too much... the trailer park out back's included too... about 20 acres total!". So there you have it. Not closed because of declining revenues, being bypassed by the Interstate (even though I-10 is about a 1/4 mile west), but because of the owner's age. I found myself wishing I had the money, since I think it'd be a great little motel to own. Fix the sign, perhaps some billboards along the Interstate to lure 'em off, and hey, the pool (a real rarity at any old motel) was still in, still usable.
I had to move on, but Frank told me next time I'm in the area, just go to his gas station about a mile down. They'd find him for me.
I think I'll do that. I'd like to hear more of Frank's stories.
Here's an old postcard view from the place. At one time, the "Palmer's" part of the sign was neon.