Colonial Village Motel

Colonial Village Motel, ca. 1940.

Colonial Village Motel, ca. 1940.

Colonial Village Motel, ca. 1940.

Note the rural landscape to the rear of the motel – only a couple of houses and barns.

Colonial Village Motel postcard verbiage, ca. 1940.

Colonial Village Motel postcard verbiage, ca. 1940.

Colonial Village Motel postcard verbiage, ca. 1940.

Soon after it’s opening in 1933, Barbur Boulevard between Terwilliger and Tigard sprouted dozens of businesses devoted to serving automobile travelers. Service stations, restaurants and motels lined this stretch of the new West Side Pacific Highway.

Motels, or auto courts, as they were first called, were built away from the city center, unlike hotels. They offered the automobile traveller quiet and inexpensive lodging in the countryside. What is now far southwest Portland was sparsely populated until the 1960s, consisting mostly of small farms and woodlands. This area was outside Portland city limits until the 1950s. It is no coincidence that Barbur Boulevard’s motel row started where the city ended. Outside the city limits meant outside the reach of city bureaucrats and freedom from the various licensing and operating fees they levied on hotel and motel operators and lodgers.

The motels were popular for another reason. Outside city limits meant away from nosy neighbors, prying landladies, and sometimes husbands and wives. In 1936 Time Magazine reported that the sociology department of Southern Methodist University spied on Dallas, Texas area motels and concluded that seventy-five percent of the patrons were local couples who used the cabins for about an hour. Over a ten week period in one motel, out of 109 couples, only seven gave their right names (SMU researchers copied down the license plate numbers and checked vehicle ownership records).

H. R. Kibler, owner of the Colonial Village Motor Court on Barbur Boulevard responded to the Time Magazine article on the SMU study with this letter to Time dated September 21, 1936:

“Too much territory do Southern Methodist snoopers take in, when under Transport (TIME, Aug. 24), they indict an entire industry [i. e. tourist cabins] because of their observations in a Texas disorderly house, cloaked with a ‘Transients Accommodated’ sign.”

Colonial Village Motel, ca. 1950.

Colonial Village Motel, ca. 1950.

Colonial Village Motel, ca. 1950.

Colonial Village Motel postcard verbiage, ca. 1950.

Colonial Village Motel postcard verbiage, ca. 1950.

Colonial Village Motel postcard verbiage, ca. 1940.

In 1974 the Motel was razed and replaced by the Colonial Office Suites, with its iconic minuteman statue.

Colonial Offices, December, 2013.

Colonial Offices, December, 2013.

Colonial Offices, December, 2013.

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