28 October 2007

[logo_design] Holiday Inn, The Great Sign-First Edition

1058. The subject of the Holiday Inn identity re-rollout made me research and look for even more examples of The Great Sign, that gaudy, flashy, colorful, beauiful early roadside attraction that signified the glory days of the classic Holiday Inn chain. My Googling, as mentioned, took me careering about the Intermets to a webside called Birmingham Rewound–and that's the one in Alabama we're talking about here.

There, I found an example of The Great Sign that was so beautifully done I had to get it to post here, so I asked the proprietor, and he assented. Here is a really interesting example of a very early-almost a proto-Holiday Inn Great Sign:

Grateful acknowledgement to Russell Wells/Birmingham Rewound
and Dixie Neon Company Archives; used with permssion.

Something that should jump right out at you (aside from the ZOMG $6 for a double rate!!!) is the word HOTEL in big bright letters slung under the backslanting script of the words "Holiday Inn". My correspondent's (Russell Wells, webmonster at Birmingham Rewound) guess is that this was likely seen only in the chain's early expansion, and that this particular unit was perhaps one of the first 10 in the then-Memphis-based chain–this was certainly the first time I've ever seen it, and makes the photo itself historically significant.

Recall how Holiday Inns, with thier high standards of cleanliness and decorum, stood to provide the family with a dependable, safe alternative to the seedy "motor hotels"-the "motels" of the '50s. Even today, the world hotel carries a class and cach├ęt that the word motel can't still quite handle. It makes sense to brand them "hotel"s.

The current state of the building, known latterly as the "Hiway Host Motel", can be seen in Google Maps if you follow this link; here's the link to the page at Birmingham Rewound, again, which has more views and commentary.

A glimpse of American commercial history in the shade of a roadside motel that's seen better days. And so it goes.

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