Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside

The Molly Pitcher Hotel

The Molly Pitcher Hotel

The Molly Pitcher Hotel opened on South Hanover Street in downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1919. It was built tight against the sidewalk and up against the adjacent buildings in the traditional way of the Pennsylvania Dutch towns.

The hotel’s namesake was town heroine Mary Ludwig, known as Molly Pitcher after the she followed her husband to the 1778 Battle of Monmouth and gained fame by dropping the pitcher she used to water the men to man her wounded husband’s cannon. A few steps from the Cumberland County Courthouse, the Molly was Carlisle’s flagship hotel, catering to an upscale clientele that cemented its reputation as the social center of town and place to go for fine dining. The 1940s postcard depicting the dining room and lounge shows a Dutchy-Modern décor with Streamline Moderne chairs and mirrored pillars surrounded by homey plant-painted walls. “The Molly” took on a different connotation in the 1960s and 1970s when it became a single-room occupancy hotel for the poor. Since 2004, it has been upgraded and restored and operates as a senior citizens apartment building.

The Westporter

The Westporter

The Westporter was a sprawling, U-shaped motel complex built in the 1950s on the burgeoning Boston Post Road commercial strip between Norwalk and Westport, Connecticut.

This was part of U.S. 1, the well-traveled main road between New York City and Boston before the 1958 opening of the Connecticut Turnpike. The postcard depicts the Westporter at its peak in the 1960s after it had attracted a stainless steel diner to its central court and opened a built-in swimming pool. The tides of fortune turned for the Westporter in the 1970s when it was operating as a seedy residence motel, reaching its nadir in 1978 when two female residents were murdered and dumped in a nearby woods. Life moved on along the Boston Post Road, but without the Westporter, bulldozed and buried under a subsequent parking lot.

Smith's Tourist Court

Mayme Smith’s motel and service station

Route 36 was the not-40 way across the Midwest in the pre-Interstate past, a less-traveled shortcut that went for miles and miles with nary a curve through not-much.

Federal Highway 40 was the Big Road, the 4-lane, the transcontinental with the historic ties to the National Road that linked Columbus to Indianapolis to St. Louis to Kansas City to Denver. Running parallel and some 20 to 50 miles to the north, US 36 did bend into Indianapolis but mostly it served lesser places like Greenville, Ohio, Decatur, Illinois, St. Joseph, Missouri, Smith Center, Kansas, and Jacksonville, Illinois, where the fuel-short and road weary could resupply at Mayme Smith’s motel and service station. Smith’s went from Modern Cabins to Tourist Court to Motel in a series of upgrades always accompanied by a new set of postcards. Here, the double room cabins come complete with red C-Spring porch chairs, a 1950s motel classic. The support frame for the metal chairs is indeed shaped like a “C,” but the C stands for cantilevered, which is how the chair is suspended without the need for rear legs giving it that unmistakable bounce.