The Modernaire Motel, A Classic on The Lincoln Highway
The YorksPast posts These Places Matter in Springettsbury Township and The WEISER Sign in the Attic produced a lot of feedback. Most people wanted more information on the potential zoning change for the northeast corner of East Market Street and Mt. Zion Road.
It is my understanding that a developer has put forth a rezoning proposal from the presently zoned “Neighborhood Commercial” to “Highway Commercial” zoning. “Highway Commercial” is the zoning that exists in the areas surrounding the York Marketplace and the York Mall along East Market Street. Please attend the Springettsbury Township Board of Supervisors Meeting at 7:00 P.M. on May 28 to voice your concerns during public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Spring Lane LLC has requested this rezoning proposal; their request is on the agenda later in the meeting.
Residential neighborhoods nearly surround this area where rezoning is being proposed; with Springetts Manor Apartments bordering a large portion of it. This zoning change is a necessary precursor to development that could demolish three historically significant properties and change green space to gray space.
The Modernaire Motel is one of those historic properties at risk. The motel was included in the late-1980s Survey by Historic York, Inc. of Historic Properties in York County. The Modernaire Motel has also been on list of the most historically significant structures in Springettsbury Township ever since the first list was issued in 2001.
The postcard at the beginning of this post is circa 1950s; a time when the entrance door was within the iconic rounded-corner. Barbara Ann (Leach) de Leon remembers The Modernaire from the 1950s:
From the period of 1956 thru 1958 my Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Leach of 3201 Dorsett Lane, York PA owned The Modernaire Motel. I was a senior in York Country Day School and spent a year before college helping my Dad with the office work at the Motel. At that time many of the guests rented the rooms for a week at a time because they were working at many of the industrial businesses that were in York at the time.
During the summer months many of the guests were tourists, who came to the Pennsylvania Dutch area to explore and vacation here. Travelers come to the area to see some history about the county and little by little the business leaders of the area took to saturate the area with shopping centers and outlets at the expense of destroying the historical buildings and homes which tourists enjoy. Is another here today and gone tomorrow strip shopping center worth the destruction of several historical homes and business worth it?
I’ve started to compile a list of the owners and any of their children that have memories of the motel. Let me know if I’ve missed any of the owners of The Modernaire Motel:
- Martin & Charlotte Mundis
- Curvan & Alice Kinter
- Harold & Rose Leach
- William & Edna Morris
- Richard & Vera Zimmerman
- Robert & Debra Straw
In 1989, Cheryl Neff of Historic York, Inc. interviewed Robert & Debra Straw; the owners of The Modernaire Motel. They stated the motel was constructed in 1940. I’ve seen both 1940 and 1949 in various places and am in the process of researching which is correct. Please comment if you have documentation on which year is correct.
The Modernaire Motel is a unique example of a streamline modern motel. It exemplifies a distinctive style among the many iconic motels built along the heavily traveled Lincoln Highway, when this road was the primary east-west highway across the nation. It is one of the oldest continuously operated businesses still surviving along this stretch of East Market Street in Springettsbury Township.
The main building, with the iconic rounded corner entrance, was the original motel, containing nine rooms. This two-story brick building, with a flat roof, was constructed in 1940. The cinderblock motel units to the rear were added in two stages during 1950/2 and circa 1960. Check out Jim McClure’s post Landmark Modernaire Motel built in Lincoln Highway’s heyday.
The Modernaire Motel is a structure that deserves to be preserved or adaptively reused. Does this place or green space matter to you? If so, you may want to attend the Board of Supervisors Meeting at 7:00 p.m. on May 28th and voice your concerns during public comment at the beginning of the meeting.
Related posts include:
- These Places Matter in Springettsbury Township
- Builders of the Modernaire Motel
- Bloomingdale, a Remarkable Historic Home
- The WEISER Sign in the Attic
- Lost Landmark?
- Springettsbury Township does not need a Shopping Center at a Busy Intersection
- Letter to the Editor got Results in Springettsbury Township
- Rezoning Effort continues along Market Street and Mount Zion Corridor