Friday, June 14, 2024

Vacation Travels

We’re in the dog days of summer. It seems like a good time to see how people enjoyed vacation travel in the past.  For a good part of the first half of the 20th century, Sanford was a major stop for national north- and south-bound traffic.  Interstates and limited access bypasses didn’t exist and US 1 travelled right through the heart of the city.

In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, cars became popular and roads became paved. It opened a new passage way for Americans and allowed them to travel much farther distances for business and pleasure. Vacation travelers in this era often stayed in peoples’ homes that were marketed as “tourist homes.” In the upper left we see the Red Brick Tourist Home, operated by Mrs. W.R. Makepeace at Hawkins Avenue & Chisholm Street.

For many long-distance travelers before World War II, cabins and cottages were preferred overnight destinations. In the mid-1930s, local resident Bobby Burns operated a gas station, a restaurant called the Three Points Café, and added tourist cabins, which you can see in the distance of this picture.

Folks heading out of Sanford in a southerly direction on Route 1, could enjoy staying at the Richmahr Cottages. Like many operations in its time, Richmahr offered overnight accommodations as well as dining – and they had a reputation for serving delicious food.

A little farther south, where US 15 – 501 branched off of US 1 and headed toward Carthage, was the Green Gables Motel. Motels boomed in the 1950s. Operated by Mr. & Mrs. Herman Andrews, for many years this was one of the distinctive landmarks regular travelers got used to seeing.  It closed in 1987 and was demolished a few years after that.

The bypass around Sanford opened on January 17, 1957 and forever changed travel and tourism in our area. US 1 itself was created in 1926 and travels 2,369 miles, the length of the country from Maine-to-Florida.  As an added Throwback Thursday bonus, here’s a sign from March 1951 showing the start of the highway, compliments of the US National Archives.

Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase.