Motel Inn, San Luis Obispo, California
Tribute by Jeffrey Sward
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The Motel Inn, what is left of it, is located in San Luis Obispo, California. San Luis Obispo is half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is 200 miles between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo and 200 miles between San Luis Obispo and San Francisco. This intermediate location makes San Luis Obispo the ideal over night rest location for road travelers.

In 1925 an enterprising entrepreneur realized the value of location as well as a new concept for travel lodgings. The Motel Inn in San Luis Obispo became the first "Motor Hotel" or "Motel." The word "motel" was invented for this particular establishment, on the way to "motel" being a generic noun. Salient features of motels were also created with the Motel Inn, such as individual units with a parking space for an automobile directly in front of the unit's door. The Motel Inn was recognized as historically significant by the San Luis Obispo Parlor in 1988.

The Motel Inn was originally located adjacent to highway 1, which became highway 101, which now is freeway 101.

The Motel Inn has fallen on hard times. As of 1999, the Motel Inn was abandoned. As of 2006, most of the buildings have been torn down, except for fragments of two original structures. Refer to photographic evidence. The future of the Motel Inn is unknown. We can hope that this bit of significant Roadside Commercial Archaeology will be preserved in some manner.

San Luis Obispo remains a lucrative overnight designation, as evidenced by the success of the iconoclastic Madonna Inn.

Visit a Motel Inn history page.


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