I confess, at first glance, I had no idea what would have prompted John Margolies–as featured in Thomas Rosell’s post in July–to take a photograph of Pud’s Package Liquor on Route 49, Gulfport, even for the sign and the vivid striped awnings. In fact, I failed to notice the geometric forms that seem so obvious now. What actually intrigued me enough to look into what had happened to this building that was part of the Margolies collection was the parenthetical name “Valentine Diner” following the Pud’s descriptor.
Underneath that faded yellow paint was a prefabricated Arthur Valentine diner. The Valentine diner got its start in Wichita, Kansas in the late 1930s when Metal Buildings Company of Wichita and Martin Perry Company of New York collaborated to build the diners in sections and ship them to anywhere in the U.S. Valentine Manufacturing Company incorporated in 1947, following a break in production due to lack of materials during the war. The diners sat 8-12, and were built to be easily transported on a flatbed truck. Valentine’s selling point was that with the small size, one person could easily manage the operation in slow times, and two during peak times, and promoted the idea of being your own boss.
The design was for maximum efficiency and service for quick turnover. The Kansas Historical Society features a number of photographs and advertisements for the diner, including the 10-stool Master Model.
Gulfport’s diner was open as early as 1948, when the following advertisement appeared in the Biloxi Daily Herald.
The building is described as not extant in the MDAH Historic Resources Inventory, and a second record for the Falks Waffle Shop is listed as a c. 1980 commercial building at the same location. The final surprise of what happened to this building photographed by John Margolies in 1979 was revealed when the c. 1980 building was being demolished to build Coast Roast Coffee & Tea. Underneath those walls was the shell of the old Valentine-designed diner, looking more faded than when John Margolies captured it in a picture that will survive longer than the diner.
There are many of the Valentine Diners that are still extant, however. You can view some of them on the Kansas Historical Society website.