Then & Now: Sheraton Motor Inn

Today’s Then and Now is a lesson in the life-cycle of hotels in our throw-away society. If you’ve driven down I-55 in Jackson recently, you’ve seen the former Sheraton Motor Inn just north of the Northside Drive exit, but you may have passed it right by, as I did for many years before realizing what I was looking at. That stone entrance area long drew my eye, but it took seeing this postcard image of the Sheraton in its heyday for me to recognize that the clunky gable porte cochere may actually be hiding a fabulous . . . well, our resident architects or Thomas Rosell will have to give a name to this type of roof. All I know is that it’s fabulous and that it probably poured water straight into the building, which is no doubt why it’s been covered.

SHERATON MOTOR INN, Interstate 55 North, Northside Drive Exit, Jackson, Mississippi. Tel. (601) 362-6351. Located only minutes from the State Capital, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the Barnett Reservoir. The hospitality is Sheraton, Southern Style. Spacious guest rooms--Color TV--giant size pool--air conditioned--gracious dining--family plan--free parking. Insured Reservations at Guaranteed Rates via Sheraton's exclusive RESERVATRON II. A Worldwide Service of ITT.

SHERATON MOTOR INN, Interstate 55 North, Northside Drive Exit, Jackson, Mississippi. Tel. (601) 362-6351. Located only minutes from the State Capital, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the Barnett Reservoir. The hospitality is Sheraton, Southern Style. Spacious guest rooms–Color TV–giant size pool–air conditioned–gracious dining–family plan–free parking. Insured Reservations at Guaranteed Rates via Sheraton’s exclusive RESERVATRON II. A Worldwide Service of ITT.

Super10-04

Select 10 Motel, same view as above, 2014. Notice the stone around the entrance.

Typically, hotels have a life cycle of about 20 years, after which, they pass to new owners and go down a notch, then repeat after another ten years, and then you get to Select 10, which, according to newspaper reports, has been repeatedly cited for code violations in the last year or two, along with numerous crime reports. This is why I am deeply hesitant to endorse the insertion of any new hotel, no matter how lux it may be, into a historic area, and why I am concerned about the recent proposal to build a 9-story hotel tower behind Fondren’s iconic Kolb’s Cleaners. Leaving aside the enormous height problem that I think will overwhelm the Kolbs building, my experience is that it is only a matter of time before the hotel will go from asset to a liability for the surrounding neighborhood. And a 9-story tower is even more of a liability than a sprawling roadside motel because it’s hard to convert or even to demolish.

As for the Sheraton/Select 10, I think with some money and vision, it could become a cool and maybe even swanky retro hotel again. If so, I hope they bring that wonderful porte cochere back.



Categories: Historic Preservation, Hotels, Jackson, Modernism, Recent Past

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13 replies

  1. The Reservatron II system, hmm? This was a landmark for me every morning-on the way to Chastain Jr, High via my dad’s taxi system!

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  2. Now that is just sad….and a word I rarely use, “hideous.”

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  3. Great photo of the original Sheraton with The Jetsons porte cochere and space age sign out front. Hotels/motels in Jackson are disturbing. A new Westin Hotel is underway. No recent news on The Edison Walthall Hotel eyesore, boarded up waiting to be turned into condos. Last news on internet is January 2015. “Proposed” 9 story monstrosity in Fondren – HORRORS! The city of Jackson’s redevelopment authority is on Request for Proposal number 3 for another new hotel to be built across the street from the Convention Center on Pascagoula Street. All of this is one big ol’ mishmash to me. And then there are those pitiful motels on Highway 80 going South that can be seen from I-20. :(

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  4. Hear, hear! Leave Kolb’s alone! Those plans look awful and it’s now our only R.K. Overstreet building thanks to Baptist Hospital, aka the Scourge of Belhaven (not to be confused with First Presbyterian, home of the daily soccer moms in SUVs traffic jam).

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  5. I’m not opposed to the Fondren hotel idea, but I agree that the building could be designed better. As for obsolescence, yes it happens if the hotel owners aren’t vigilant about maintaining their properties. I remember staying here a number of times. They had a restaurant called Paul’s Lamplighter. The interior scheme ran to green shag carpet and lots of 1970s brown furniture of indeterminate style and determined ugliness. I still wish the Sun-n-Sand could be fixed up.

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  6. So, with the The Jetsons porte cochere the rain water drained back toward the lobby? NOT GOOD!

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    • The Sheraton was a later transformation of the original Caravan Motor Hotel that opened early 1960s. Barlow & Plunkett, architect, with heavy contributions from designer Everett Caldwellof Dallas. The canopy was influenced by the one at the Broadwater, one of Plunkett’s favorite watering holes. It was once considered one of Jackson’s top two motels, the other being the now delapidated Holiday Inn West on I20/80. Both support Malvaney’s theory of why a hotel at Kolbs is a mistake. And to think it is being promoted by an architect!

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  7. My father was co-owner of the Sheraton Motor Inn on I-55 north from 1965 until 1980. We even lived there during the mid-1970’s, and I worked the front desk during the late 1970’s. The post card you’ve posted was before the second addition was added, as well as the Pyramid (which has since been torn down). I don’t remember the roof over the drive through causing problems when it rained, but it does look like it could or should have. After it was sold sometime around 1980, it began a steady decline. It makes me sad every time I drive by, and I’ve never stopped to take a look at what it looks like beyond the front. I like to remember it the way it was in its heyday.

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  8. How interesting to read the post and the comments! It is sad when property is allowed to decline; hotels and shopping centers seem to be the worst victims. I wonder why some seem to thrive perpetually and others meet a fate like the Jetson-era Sheraton. The inverted arch must have had some kind of drainage system; it did add a nice touch to the hotel entry,

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  9. So a hotel in a bustling, creative, diverse community is going to be a liability? I don’t follow. Please educate me.

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    • Hotels in bustling communities can become liabilities if they change hands, which most hotels do, and the community is left with a lesser hotel that is poorly maintained and operated. It happens so often that it almost seems to be the business model. In this case, the mass of a 9-story tower directly adjacent to residences would make it a terrible weight on the entire downtown Fondren area, a much more serious liability than “just” the interestate section that the former Sheraton occupies.

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  10. Great post. This property has always fascinated me, because I remember its “heyday” as a Sheraton. I remember palm trees, tiki torches, and multi-colored landscape lighting out front — all of which made it seem exotic to my young eyes.

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  11. I have to add another 2-cents here! I agree wholeheartedly that often hotels do decline as the years pass. But I think it also depends on the hotel’s surroundings and the mindset of the governing body of that jurisdiction. I have to cite the city where I live, San Antonio, Texas, as an example. To keep this brief, after the Hemisphere event in 1968 SA realized that the River Walk had opened up a whole new world: tourism and conventions. Today the city leaders are very mindful of preserving the River Walk and welcoming new ventures (as well as locals and tourists) to our downtown. As a result, the hotels do not change hands and are meticulously maintained. Currently condos are going in everywhere, in old buildings and new. Downtown is vibrant!

    On a recent trip to Jackson and an early evening drive through downtown I had to wonder why city leaders had never done anything to revitalize and draw people downtown. I realize that the economy can be a problem, but the trade off of a little investment in a plan to bring tourists and residents ….sorry, I digressed off topic. I will stop here :)

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