Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Blue Front BBQ on Dixie Hwy. in City of Lake Worth: One of the few survivors of “roadside architecture”.

And you may be interested in learning why I have a whole new perspective about World Thrift on Dixie Hwy. here in the City. More about that below.

Stumbled upon a postcard of a roadside motel and restaurant in Perry, Florida. The city, which is situated in Florida’s Nature Coast about 50 miles south of Tallahassee, has a number of U.S. Routes, including U.S. 27, that meet and run through the city.

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 structure itself was part of the advertising:
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.

When you drive down Dixie Hwy. can you see the resemblance to the former Kristine’s?
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.

Below is an early edition of the former “Patio” restaurant that once occupied the southeast corner of Cornell Drive and North Dixie Hwy. It was later expanded, lost much of its character, and ultimately was demolished. The property is still a vacant lot today, across Dixie from the former “Park Avenue BBQ”, which is now a parking lot for World Thrift next door — the good news is they are doing a nice job of streetscaping and landscaping — not an eyesore like it once was.

The vacant lot where the Patio restaurant once stood remains an eyesore, and has been for many years.

The empty lot, once the “Patio”, is used mostly now for gimmicky signs and an easy short-cut sometimes.
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 — especially the Millennials — but it’s never fast enough for Yours Truly though.

Am I thrilled our City has a thrift store located along one of our major gateways? I wasn’t a few years ago. But I am now. Because World Thrift is drawing crowds of people into our City. Every day. And many of those visitors are interested in learning more about this area.

The Millennials love World Thrift! Use this link for their Facebook page.

The operators of this thrift store are taking pride in their community and doing everything they can to make improvements to this former bowling alley from “back in the day”. A once-vacant lot just to the south of the thrift store, where a decrepit BBQ joint once sat, isn’t “Charming” along our Dixie Hwy. A parking lot isn’t my dream for that location. But it’s nice to see business owners take pride in their parking lot, adding streetscaping and new asphalt, to make it a bit more appealing.

And for that I’m grateful.

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