Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wildwood Motels

(Starlux Boutique Hotel Photo by Jenny Wood)

Anne McDonough writes in The Washington Post about the efforts by preservation groups to save the New Jersey Wildwoods' googie motels.
They're just a few of the styles known as doo-wop, the '50s and '60s throwback look that was once all the rage in the Wildwoods of New Jersey. But because of changing aesthetics and demand for shorefront condos, more than 100 of the old-time motels have met the wrecking ball in the past few years, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
She correctly uses the term "doo-wop," which is what local boosters call that 50s and 60s-era convergence of sharp angles, amoeboid shapes, glowing neon, and space-age iconography, but I just can't take the term seriously.

It reminds me of those cheesy Time-Life music informercials where they dig up some ancient pop fossil, stick him in a nouveau-neon "diner," and use him to sell overpriced CD collections ("original songs by the original artists!"). That kind of "doo-wop" pitch -- malt shops, poodle skirts, and '57 Chevys -- aims for a much different demographic than folks like me who just love the architecture. But regardless of what you call it, mid-century Wildwood is a treasure worth saving.

On our most recent visit, we stayed at the Starlux Boutique Hotel, which offers lava lamps and a reading room filled with books on googie, doo-wop, and populux design. We found that it's best to get reservations early; rooms fill up fast. And don't be surprised that the price for lodging in this oceanfront town can get a little steep. But the vibe is fun and the staff is friendly. We'll be back soon.

Learn More

  • Motel Americana: New Jersey motels

  • Wildwood Doo Wop: an "online catalog of hundreds of motels and other "Doo Wop Spots" around The Wildwoods"

  • Woodland Shoppers Paradise: Modernaire Motel
  • 2 comments:

    troy said...

    Andrew-
    Thanks for calling attention to The Wildwoods' Doo Wop Treasures. I definitely understand your difficulty in taking the term 'Doo Wop' seriously...many of the locals feel the same. But, as you say, "mid-century Wildwood is a treasure worth saving"...by whatever name.
    For readers interested in learning more, also check out: Wildwood Doo Wop
    I hope you enjoyed your stay at the Starlux. Glad to hear you'll be back soon.

    Andrew Wood said...

    Thank YOU, Troy! Wildwood Doo Wop is a swell find. I know we'll refer to this resource when we next return to the Jersey shore.

    Best of luck in your efforts to help preserve such a special place.