Pull In, Get a Room and Read About This First-of-Its-Kind Motor Hotel

December 12, 1925

The world’s first hotel especially built for motorists made its debut in San Luis Obispo, California. The Milestone Mo-Tel was introduced at a time when an increasing number of people were driving automobiles and very much needing suitable overnight lodging accommodations for long-distance trips.

“The opening of San Luis Obispo’s new hotel inaugurates a new method for the accommodation of the auto tourist,” reported one newspaper in the region. “This motel is a type of tourist camp originated by the Milestone Interstate corporation and is designated to give the maximum comfort and beauty to the traveler at a moderate cost, its promoters say.”

The Milestone Mo-Tel’s promoters were Arthur S. Heinemann, an architect who designed the structure to resemble the old-time Spanish missions that had been built in present-day California, and his brother Alfred. They selected San Luis Obispo as the location for their new enterprise since the city was approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. In addition, the Heinemann Brothers established Milestone Interstate Corporation with high expectations that they would build a chain of comparable accommodations elsewhere on the Pacific coast between Seattle and San Diego.

While they were not able to accomplish this expansion goal due to such hindrances as a lack of capital from outside investors, their building in San Luis Obispo did pave the way for many similar roadside facilities both within and beyond the United States. The Milestone Mo-Tel also helped popularize the word “motel” (a portmanteau contraction of “motor hotel”).  

The Milestone Mo-Tel, which eventually became known as the Motel Inn, remained in operation as a lodging facility until 1991. Located on Monterey Street near U.S. Route 101, the one-time motel now serves as the administration building for a hotel located next door.

For more information on the Milestone Mo-Tel, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motel_Inn and http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/02/home/la-hm-lost-la-milestone-motel-20110702.

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