Things Remembered: Holiday Inn by Bill Seay

07 Aug 2018 3:33 PM | Anonymous

Piedmont Heights is home to one of the first Holiday Inn hotels. Located on Monroe Drive at Piedmont Circle overlooking I-85, it most recently was called Intown Suites, catering to weekly renters.

The hotel chain was conceived by Kemmons Wilson in 1951 when on a family vacation trip he became frustrated with the shabbiness of roadside hotels then available and which charged extra for children, of which he had five. Wilson built his first hotel in 1953 in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, and named it for the 1942 film Bing Crosby film ”Holiday Inn.”

Wilson built a chain of the hotels along the new interstate highway system, a day’s drive apart, and by 1959 there were 100, likely including the one in Piedmont Heights. By 1970 there were 1,700. The new chain catered specifically to families and offered such amenities as baby cribs, dog kennels, swimming pools and restaurants. The daily rate was $6 -- and children stayed for free. The chain’s “Great Sign,” fifty feet high, double-sided and neon lit, was highly visible from a great distance along the nation's highways. The sign is long gone but today there are Holiday Inns in over 50 countries.

Today, Intown Suites is empty and surrounded by construction barriers. The new owner, Paces Properties, will one day begin renovating the property into a multi-use facility containing an upscale 162 room suites hotel, large restaurant, event space, retail amenities, and 26,000 square feet of office space.

This writer remembers taking guests out to eat at the old Piedmont Heights Holiday Inn one evening in 1970 because it had the only restaurant open on Sunday in the area at the time.

by Bill Seay (Rock Springs Rd)

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