The Original Rockford Nostalgic Website
Charles W. and Bertha Larson opened and operated the first motel in Rockford at 3303 East State Street just west of Fairview Avenue. The 23 unit Larson's Motel opened in 1935 and was the only motel in Rockford for twenty years. The motel also had a general store and Texaco gas station. Later the gas station would move to the corner of East State at Fairview in a newer modern facility. Mom and Pop tourist’s courts or motels were common during the 1920's to 60's before the rapid spread of national chain motels. The motel was sold in 1963 and the new owners changed the name to the Valley Inn Motel.
A black and white postcard from Larson's Tourist Court, circa 1936
Charles W. and Bertha Larson sold their motel to William B. Lewis who operated the motel under the name Valley View Motel from 1963 until 1973 when he sold the property to a developer. Today the Valley View Apartments, a 178 unit high rise apartment building stands on the former Larson Motel property.
Nelson Motel, 7885 West State Street. "Stop and Rest" 1950's Ultra-Modern, Radiant Heat, Sound Proof and Fire Proof. Open All Year. Reservations accepted by mail or phone 55431. Located 5 Miles West on Route 20.
Another View of the Nelson Motel, located 3 miles West of Rockford. Picture appears to be from the late 1940's or early 1950's judging by the automobile in the lot.
Nelson Motel, 2½ Miles West of Rockford. Radiant heat, tiled baths and fire proof. Owned and Operated by the W. A. Nelsons. The Nelson's would sell the motel and it was rebranded Conner's Motel. Card is from the 1950's.
Conner's Motel and Shipp's Café was located at 7885 West State Street in the 1960's. Located in the space previously occupied by the Nelson Motel. The motel still exists and is operating under the name Gold Star Motel.
Rustic Motel is located at 7159 West State Street. Once a roadside motel offering lodging, food and gasoline. The gasoline offered at the pumps was Mobilgas. This 10 Unit motel was owned by Don and Grace Foster and offered a carport for each car, hot water heat, tile shower and innerspring mattresses. Located 4 miles west of Downtown Rockford.
In this postcard view of the Rustic Motel it appears that the remodeled motel now featured a fireplace, new signage, awnings and the gas pumps have disappeared from the scene. The Rustic Motel is still in business.
The Edge O' Town Motel, 4404 East State Street was built in 1955 by the Albert Pick Hotel Corporation. Originally it was to be Rockford's first Holiday Inn. Albert Pick had 22 hotels in 20 major cities but wanted to get in on the new roadside motel craze and became a franchise holder of Holiday Inns and operated 5 other Holiday Inn's across the country as Rockford's motel was being built. After a disagreement with Holiday Inn Corp., Pick decided to take their motels private as the franchise agreements ended.
Notice the sign is the distinct and well known Holiday Inn "Great Sign" right down to the Holiday Inn color scheme except it reads Edge O' Town Motel instead of Holiday Inn.
The Edge O' Town Restaurant was added just to the East of the motel in 1956 at 4416 East State and remained in operation as the Edge O' Town Restaurant until 1972 when the Albert Pick Company leased it to the Sabre & Saddle Restaurant from 1968 to 1972. The building again would be leased out in 1972 to the Kai -Tiki Restaurant & Lounge which closed in 1980. The final restaurant at this location was Godfather's Pizza. The building was later sold and demolished to expand the Rock River Block car dealership. More information can be found in the Restaurant Gallery section of the website.
Edge O' Town Restaurant Menu - click on the menu above for an expanded menu. Menu is from 1956
In 1961 the Albert Pick Hotel Corporation changed the name of the Edge O' Town to the Albert Pick Motel. Notice the large swimming pool to the left of the motel complex which had been added in 1960. Also note the sign which still sported the column from the original sign with the lighted star on top. In 1972 Albert Pick sold the motel property to Rockford's Ecklund family, operators of the nearby Sweden House Lodge and Restaurant. It remained operating under the Albert Pick banner until 1984 when Rockford based Fridh Corporation, successors to the Eklund family motel and restaurant holdings, took the hotel independent and renamed it Alpine Inn.
A guest room at the Albert Pick Motel in Rockford
The Alpine Room at the Albert Pick Motel in Rockford
Alpine Inn operated under this name until 1999 when they became affiliated with the Villager Lodge motel chain, a New Jersey based franchiser. Notice the sign has once again been recycled.
Alpine Inn - "Where You Park at Your Door". A great shot of the swimming pool in this postcard. The name was changed back to the Alpine Inn and the colorful "Great Sign" was taken down and replaced by a more generic sign in the 1990's. The motel was purchased by Tom Baudhuin and his wife Cindy and brother Mike Baudhuin in 2007. The motel upgraded all of its 114 rooms in 2009 and is now known as the Alpine Inn and Suites.
Inn Towne Motel was located at 3100 - 3110 West State Street. The motel contained 38 units, color television, air conditioning and room phones. It also featured a coffee shop, cocktail lounge and four dining rooms with seating for 300m patrons. It also had off street parking for any size vehicle. The hotel has long ago been demolished.
For a time the motel - restaurant complex featured a dinner theater.
The Towne & Country Motel located at 4422 Eleventh Street was opened around 1952. The 12 room motel was owned and operated by Verne G. Hamerstand and Frank V. Wood. The motel had fully tiled baths, hat water heat and was of fireproof construction. They would sell the small motel to Joseph L. and Pasquale Gucciardo in December 1962. By 1967 the motel was managed by Mr. & Mrs. Robert Krun. In an article picked up by the Associated Press, the couple took in a dirty, bedraggled hound dog that came to the motel looking for shelter. But he didn’t seem to appreciate it. Mrs. Krun said the hound, who had been cleaned and fed, sat idly by and watched a thief rifle the motel cash register of about $350 and flee on a motorcycle. “He was just a happy go lucky hound,” she said about the dog. “Instead of chasing after him, he just sat there. He’s a big deal.” The motel is still in operation under different owners.
The Red Manor Motel was located at 1520 21st Avenue at the corner of 11th Street and originally was owned by Erland Peterson. The motel was constructed along the lines of a motel, with the 10 one room units in a long, one story building paralleling 21st Avenue. There was a 10 foot setback from 11th Street and 20 feet from 21st Avenue. Lack of any provision in the city zoning code for motels or tourist courts led to City Building Inspector Carl Fradine to issue a permit for a motel-like building with the designation of "apartment hotel". There was no provision in the code for motels as yet; the property was zoned "C" residential, and apartment hotels are permitted in this classification. I had to call it "apartment hotel" Fradine said at the time. The motel was opened in early 1954 and although designated an "apartment hotel", none of the rooms had cooking facilities. Each one room unit had a shower and other plumbing facilities however associated with a motel. The office was located in the center of the building.
On March 11, 1954 Erland Peterson sought to have the property rezoned from "C" residential to local business. His request was based on the fact that residential zoning would prevent him from setting up a sign advertising the Red Manor Motel. The board denied his request and suggested special permission be obtained from the city council to erect the sign. Once again he petitioned the zoning board of appeals on September 13, 1954 to switch his property to business from "C" residential so he could put up a sign advertising the motel. On September 16 the members of the zoning board of appeals approved the rezoning request of Erland Peterson for the Red Manor Motel from "C" residential to local business classification. By the looks of the first picture of the motel in this article, Erland not only put up one sign - he installed two. Erland would later sell the motel but it would remain a motel into the early 1970's, when it was converted to small apartments and the front portion retail.
The former Red Manor Motel as it appears in a 2014 Google search
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