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.

8 comments:

Wanda said...

GREAT story!!! And yes, I am sure that if Susan would have been there, you would have been digging around the entire place!! Just like when she went to "look" at the barn near Lenzelhof....she was IN it and climbing all around!!! I would have been scared to death!!! Every monster in every motel of every scary movie I've ever seen would have been there...if but in my mind!!!! ha ha And the song "hotel california" would have been stuck in my head!!!!! ha ha Great post and such great memories

Anonymous said...

Steve, you're a hoot! I love this and the fun you have with nearly everything in your life. Stay as wonderful as you are - As I've said before "you are a keeper"! Love, Linda

SONYASPHERE said...

Are you sure it's closed?

SONYASPHERE said...

Mom and I stayed in a flea bag hotel one time when our car broke down (as it turned out the Caddy was out of gas!!)...the $2 "framed" photos on the walls (with plastic rather than glass) were screwed into the walls...like someone would want to steal them!! There really were fleas (and an assortment of bugs) and it was hideous....must have been a chain of the Dixie!

Deb said...

haha...in 1977 when I was 22 we...my Mom and Dad, 2 sisters and a cousin were returning to PA from a long Disney World vacation and we drove past 10 PM and couldn't find a room and ended up at the DIXIE. SCARY!!! I can't imagine what it was like 10 years later. We have laughed about staying at the PSYCHO Motel for years. I remember the shower head in the bathtub being about three feet off the floor and trying to get under the spray. We were scared of rats and will NEVER forget that night. I do remember there were people in nearly all the rooms. There were some very noisy people right next door...won't go into thtat. Mostly truckers I think. Thanks for the blast from the past!

JoAnn said...

This was very inteerseting as our family stayed there back 1977 on our way home to Pa. after leaving Disney World. :Like you and your wife we could not find one of the well known motel that had a vacancy and being very tired i asked my husband to stop at the Dixie. Well I will not go into it anymore as you blog has said it all. Our family that was with it will never forget it. Needless to say we never stopped there again w hen we traveled to Fl.

JoAnn said...

This was very inteerseting as our family stayed there back 1977 on our way home to Pa. after leaving Disney World. :Like you and your wife we could not find one of the well known motel that had a vacancy and being very tired i asked my husband to stop at the Dixie. Well I will not go into it anymore as you blog has said it all. Our family that was with it will never forget it. Needless to say we never stopped there again w hen we traveled to Fl.

Matthew Butler said...

I remember this place, too. Just now went by there. Unfortunately, it's been leveled. I found some evidence of the place, though, other than the parking lot...like it was never there.