Before the dawn of Interstate highways and turnpikes, these roads were how people traveled long distances by automobile. Dixie Hwy. (U.S. 1) played the same role in the middle part of the 20th century. This created demand for lodging and restaurants along these routes and the “Mom & Pop” motel and dining era began here in Lake Worth.
Some of these structures used particularly eye-catching Mid-Century Modern architecture which became its own genre commonly referred to as highway or roadside architecture. The resulting building design usually ended up being a “sign” itself, designed to attract the attention of travelers along these roads.
Below is an example of just such a roadside motel/restaurant called the “Skylark” in Perry, Florida during its heyday, and a picture of how the same buildings look today.
|The ‘motel’ presently with its signature arched sign.|
|What remains. You can still see the original sign with its unique outline, sans the neon.|
We once had many examples in the City of Lake Worth along U.S. 1. “Kristine’s”, now home to Blue Front BBQ, is a notable survivor. Here is a postcard of that building during the mid-1950s.
|This structure is one of the few survivors of restaurants and “highway architecture” to lure in and interest customers passing through our City prior to I-95.|
|The former “Patio Coffee Shop, Lake Worth, Florida”. All these years later still a vacant lot and eyesore on Dixie Hwy.|
For the most part, time has not been kind to these structures. Most have been either modified beyond recognition or demolished. There are areas of the country that still retain and promote their architecture along these former once-thriving and bustling highways. Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway are examples.
Along this stretch of Dixie Hwy. in this City many see the potential, also referred to as the ‘P’ word. Slowly but surely it’s changing for the better and a lot of people are noticing. It’s never fast enough for Yours Truly though.
A vacant lot isn’t “Charming” along our Dixie Hwy. A parking lot isn’t all that much better but it’s nice to see some business owners take pride in their parking lot to make it a bit more appealing. And for that I’m grateful.