Friday, March 6, 2009
The Dixie Motel in Emporia, VA
Susan and I are approaching a very interesting anniversary in our lives. Way back on Good Friday, 1987, we were on our way from Columbia to Norfolk, VA to visit with my parents (both are now deceased). We had just recently moved from Ohio (January) where I had just graduated with my PhD from The Ohio State University, and I was just beginning my short-lived career as a Coastal Engineer. I think this trip was our first road trip from Columbia. We left Columbia after work Friday and drove up I95. It was late and we needed a room for the night but there were no vacancies anywhere. We decided to go off the main highway and look for anything, aka Janet Leigh in Psycho. What we found was The Dixie Motel. It had vacancies and a diner/truck stop that was actually open and even served pretty edible food. Our room had paneled walls, probably as thick as the paneling, a bed that bowed like a joggling board, and a bathroom so small that two people could not fit at one time. Numerous people before us had carved their names in the walls and left other graffiti that I wish I had photographed( no digital cameras for us then)! We could hear everything in rooms that were way far from us! It was the most dirty, scary, and at the same time, charming place I've ever stayed in my life. We had always joked with our kids that we would all stay there one night during one or our many road trips from SC to Va to DC.
In all the times over the last 22 years I've passed by this area, I never stopped.
The entrance to The Dixie Motel
While Susan was in England I went up to DC (Feb 16) for my fix of good ballet - ABT at the Kennedy Center. This could have been Mathias' company if he had chosen this path (he was offered ABT Studio at age 16 and he has many old friends that dance in the company). On Friday I went to the National Art Gallery West Wing to see the Robert Frank photography show. Needless to say it was great and it probably inspired me to return to SC on Saturday via back roads. Specifically I traveled US 301 from Emporia to Rocky Mount, NC to see the national juried show at the Rocky Mount Arts Center that Susan is in. What a fabulous arts center!
I finally stopped at The Dixie Motel and took these pictures. Who knows how long this motel has been closed and abandoned (probably years). The old diner was also closed and falling apart as was the motel. I could not remember what room we stayed at (we were to the right of the main office), but I'm sure they were all the same as the one I took pictures of. I even found a room key on the cement floor adjacent to Room 4; I don't know if it fit the door; I was a little paranoid of the no trespassing and hunting signs, the possibly of vagrants attacking me or the ghosts of patrons past. I am sure that if Susan was with me, we would have probably entered the room for better pictures. In any event, I had a blast.
Close-up view of the Dixie Motel Office
Accommodations in Room 4
Natural air-conditioning at The Dixie Motel
I drove the next 55 miles or so to Rocky Mount and lost count at the number of abandoned motels, businesses, and buildings I passed along US 301. They are, of course, the result of progress and Interstates. I wonder how much it would cost to purchase one of these bulidings and renovate it - probably too much - I guess that's why there are so many buildings standing as momuments to yesteryear.