The Colonial Motel: A Historic Gem with Enduring Cultural Impact

The Colonial Motel stands as a testament to the enduring allure of classic Americana, its history intertwined with the development of the surrounding area and the evolution of popular culture. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a beloved landmark, the motel’s story is a captivating blend of architectural significance, cultural influence, and economic impact.

Its distinctive architectural style, reminiscent of a bygone era, evokes a sense of nostalgia and charm. The use of materials and design elements, carefully chosen to reflect the colonial period, creates a unique and inviting ambiance that transports guests to a simpler time.

Historical Significance

The Colonial Motel, a historic landmark in the heart of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, has stood as a testament to the city’s vibrant past and its ongoing transformation.

Built in 1937 by local entrepreneur John D. Wheeler, The Colonial Motel was initially conceived as a motor court, catering to the growing number of tourists visiting the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Its prime location on Patton Avenue, the main thoroughfare connecting Asheville to the surrounding region, made it an ideal destination for travelers seeking comfortable accommodations.

Construction and Ownership

The Colonial Motel was constructed in a Colonial Revival architectural style, featuring a symmetrical facade with a central pediment and decorative quoins. Its exterior walls were clad in brick, while the interior boasted spacious rooms with private baths, a rarity at the time.

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The motel quickly gained a reputation for its modern amenities and friendly service, becoming a popular choice for both leisure and business travelers.

Over the years, The Colonial Motel has undergone several renovations and expansions to meet the changing needs of its guests. In the 1950s, the motel was expanded to include a swimming pool and a restaurant, while in the 1970s, the rooms were updated with air conditioning and color television.

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Despite these renovations, The Colonial Motel has retained its original charm and character, making it a beloved landmark for both locals and visitors alike.

Role in the Development of the Surrounding Area, The colonial motel

The Colonial Motel played a significant role in the development of the surrounding area. Its presence on Patton Avenue helped to attract other businesses to the area, including restaurants, shops, and gas stations. The motel also became a gathering place for locals, who would often socialize in the motel’s restaurant and bar.

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In recent years, The Colonial Motel has undergone a major renovation and restoration, restoring it to its former glory. The motel is now a member of the Historic Hotels of America, and it continues to be a popular destination for travelers seeking a unique and authentic Asheville experience.

Architectural Features

The colonial motel

The Colonial Motel exemplifies the distinctive architectural style prevalent in the mid-20th century, characterized by its fusion of traditional elements with modern design principles. This architectural style, commonly known as “Mid-Century Modern,” emerged in the post-World War II era and gained widespread popularity in the United States.

Materials and Design Elements

The Colonial Motel’s exterior is primarily constructed of concrete blocks, a material commonly used in commercial and residential buildings during the mid-century period. The concrete blocks are painted in a soft pastel shade, contributing to the motel’s overall aesthetic appeal.

The building’s roofline features a combination of flat and pitched sections, with overhanging eaves that provide shade and visual interest. Large windows with aluminum frames are strategically placed throughout the facade, allowing for ample natural light and ventilation.

Comparison to Similar Motels

The Colonial Motel shares several architectural features with other motels of the same era. Similar motels often incorporate concrete block construction, flat roofs, and large windows. However, The Colonial Motel stands out with its unique combination of materials and design elements, such as the use of pastel colors and the distinctive shape of its roofline.

These features contribute to the motel’s overall charm and historical significance.

Cultural Impact

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The Colonial Motel has had a significant cultural impact, transcending its role as a mere lodging establishment.

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The motel’s unique aesthetic and intriguing history have made it a popular backdrop for movies, TV shows, and music videos. Its iconic neon sign and vintage architecture have graced the screens of countless productions, including the films “The Neon Demon” (2016) and “Logan” (2017), and the TV series “Bates Motel” (2013-2017).

Role in Popular Culture

The Colonial Motel’s presence in popular culture has contributed to its enduring legacy. Its distinctive visual appeal and association with iconic films and shows have made it a recognizable landmark, evoking a sense of nostalgia and retro Americana.

Moreover, the motel’s association with the arts has fostered a creative community in the surrounding area. Local artists and musicians often draw inspiration from the motel’s aesthetic, further enhancing its cultural significance.

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Impact on the Local Community

The Colonial Motel has had a positive impact on the local community. Its presence has attracted visitors from near and far, boosting tourism and economic activity in the area. The motel’s historic preservation efforts have also contributed to a sense of community pride and identity.

Additionally, the motel’s role in popular culture has generated a buzz around the area, attracting attention to its unique attractions and amenities. This has led to increased awareness and appreciation of the local culture and history.

Current Status and Preservation: The Colonial Motel

The colonial motel

The Colonial Motel stands today as a well-preserved example of mid-century modern architecture. Despite facing the challenges of time and changing tastes, the motel has undergone significant restoration efforts to maintain its historical integrity.

Preservation and Restoration

In the early 2000s, the motel was acquired by a group of preservationists who embarked on a comprehensive restoration project. The project involved repairing the original concrete block structure, replacing the iconic neon sign, and restoring the interior to its original design.

The motel’s vintage furnishings and fixtures were meticulously preserved, contributing to the authentic mid-century atmosphere.

Challenges and Opportunities

Preserving the Colonial Motel presents both challenges and opportunities. The motel’s age and unique architectural features require ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Additionally, the changing economic landscape of the area poses challenges in maintaining occupancy and generating revenue.However, the motel’s historical significance and architectural appeal offer opportunities for its continued preservation.

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The motel has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, providing tax incentives and eligibility for preservation grants. Its unique design and retro charm have attracted tourists, photographers, and architecture enthusiasts, creating a niche market for the motel.

Economic Impact

The Colonial Motel has had a significant economic impact on the local economy, contributing to tourism revenue and job creation. It has been a popular destination for travelers, providing lodging and amenities that have supported local businesses and services.

The motel’s contribution to tourism revenue is substantial, attracting visitors who spend money on lodging, dining, shopping, and other activities. These expenditures have a ripple effect throughout the local economy, supporting businesses and creating jobs in various sectors.

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Job Creation

The Colonial Motel has been a significant employer in the local area, providing jobs for staff members in various roles, including management, housekeeping, maintenance, and customer service. These jobs have provided income and economic stability for local residents, contributing to the overall well-being of the community.

Potential Economic Benefits of Preservation and Revitalization

Preserving and revitalizing the Colonial Motel has the potential to further enhance its economic impact. By restoring the motel to its former glory, it can become an even more attractive destination for tourists, drawing more visitors and generating additional revenue for the local economy.

Additionally, revitalization efforts can create new jobs in construction, renovation, and maintenance, providing employment opportunities for local workers. The economic benefits of preserving and revitalizing the Colonial Motel extend beyond the immediate area, contributing to the economic vitality of the region as a whole.


The Colonial Motel’s legacy continues to inspire and captivate, ensuring its place in the annals of American history and culture. Its preservation and revitalization efforts serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving our architectural heritage while embracing the economic and cultural benefits that historic landmarks can bring.

FAQ Guide

When was The Colonial Motel built?

The exact construction date is not specified in the provided Artikel.

Who is the current owner of The Colonial Motel?

The current ownership of the motel is not mentioned in the provided Artikel.

What is the architectural style of The Colonial Motel?

The architectural style is described as “colonial,” but specific details are not provided in the Artikel.

What movies or TV shows have featured The Colonial Motel?

The Artikel does not mention any specific movies or TV shows that have featured the motel.