According to the MDAH Historic Resources Inventory, the El Patio Motor Court was built in 1946. Located on the southern outskirts of Laurel on the west side of the nice new Highway 11, which connected New Orleans and Meridian and pre-dated the route of Interstate 59, the motor court was primed to take advantage of the booming automobile tourist culture after World War II.
Its Mission style was probably meant to evoke the famous Alamo Plazas, America’s first motel chain, founded by Edgar Lee Torrance in Waco, Texas in 1929. According to wikipedia:
By 1955, there were more than twenty Alamo Plazas across the southeastern U.S., most controlled by a loosely knit group of a half-dozen investors and operating using common branding or architecture.
Marketed as “Alamo Plaza Tourist Apartments” using distinctive Mission Revival Style architecture, each formed a U-shaped court with multiple buildings fronted by a distinctive façade which mimics the face of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio. . . .
The roadside tactic of using distinctive, non-standard architecture to catch the attention of passing motorists would later be used by other chains, such as the Wigwam Motels which served U.S. Route 66 travellers or the easily recognised orange rooftops of the original Howard Johnson chain.
Mississippi had two Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts: Gulfport’s, built in 1950 and located on Beach Boulevard near Edgewater Park; and Jackson’s, built sometime before 1946 and located at the intersection of Highway 80 and Terry Road. Both are gone, but it appears the Gulfport Alamo survived at least into the 21st century, according to the MDAH database record, which gives a demolition date of c.2002.
As you can see in this 1946 Sanborn map image, the Jackson Alamo wasn’t quite the organized “U-shaped court” described in the wikipedia article or as seen in the Gulfport hotel court.
On the other hand, El Patio takes the U-shaped court to heart and even though it is now a Budget Inn, its distinctive style and shape are still intact and still a part of Roadside Mississippi, as seen in these photos from 2014.
The MDAH database has some great black-and-white images from 2004 that show the courts perhaps just after the El Patio closed. I’m glad that at least another operator has fixed up the place and reopened it: http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/prop.aspx?id=2145882091&x=1366&y=728&bg=white&view=photos&DateTaken=10-26-2004