We were originally going to do an article here on how COVID19 is going to change your hotel stays, but we figured there was already enough doom and gloom written about that here on the World Wide Web, so we’ll save it for another time. In the meantime, let’s go back to a more positive, simpler time when Stuckey’s moved into the world of hospitality.
In 1960, Stuckey’s decided to branch out into the hospitality business with the introduction of Stuckey’s Carriage Inns. And why not? After all, Stuckey’s already offered two of the three iconic needs of every road traveler – gas and food – so it would seem only natural that lodging would be the next step in expanding the Stuckey’s brand. So, looking back through Stuckey’s history, that’s what they did.
The concept of the Stuckey Carriage Inn was much the same as other motel chains of the time like the Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson’s – mid-century modern, technicolored, googie-inspired, two and three story motels with a restaurant and Stuckey’s store or gift shop also located on the premises. Unfortunately, however, only four or five were built, none of which have survived until today.
The first Stuckey’s Carriage Inn was built in 1960 and fittingly located in Eastman, Georgia, the birthplace of the Stuckey’s Corporation. With its layout said to be designed by no other than Mr. W.S. Stuckey, Jr. himself, the Eastman motel featured a restaurant topped with what would later become the legendary symbols of Stuckey’s Carriage Inns – three pyramid-shaped yellow roofs (mirrored by its equally legendary roadside sign featuring a horse and carriage and three yellow pyramids of its own to top it off) and, of course, a Stuckey’s gift shop full of their famous Pecan Log Rolls.
For over 30 years weary travelers would stay the night on their way to and from Florida and other points north and south of Eastman. Unfortunately, sometime around 1996, the once famous Stuckey’s Carriage Inn was torn down and lay in ruins for quite some time. Locals say that people were so fond of the motel that they often stopped and collected a few pieces from the rubble to take home as a souvenir – a reminder of the highway happiness Stuckey’s Carriage Inn brought to everyone who lodged there for the night or two.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
The second Stuckey’s Carriage Inn was a former Holiday Inn located on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Construction began on the Holiday Inn in 1960, and by June 1961, it was open for business. A year-and-a-half later, the hotel was purchased by Georgia State Representative and Vice President of Stuckey’s, the Honorable William “Bill” Stuckey, Jr., who changed the name in January 1963 to Stuckey’s Carriage Inn.
One of the premiere hotels on Jekyll Island, the inn proclaimed itself as a “year ‘round resort” and, indeed, given the temperate climate of Georgia, it truly was. Not just a “year ‘round” resort, however, the 106-room Stuckey’s Carriage Inn was also a place where “friendly personnel will check you in” to one of the 106 rooms where “deep carpeted luxury” awaited. Besides taking a dip in its Georgia-shaped pool, the resort featured an 18-hole golf course “fashioned out of the virgin landscape beside the sea”. Its tennis courts were “fast”, its fishing was “great”, and its wildlife “abounded”. And everyone from doctors to engineers to young newlyweds counted on Stuckey’s Carriage Inn’s convention facilities to give them the time of their lives.
In the early 1970’s, with the Middle East oil crisis and the rising cost of fuel, people started traveling less and nothing felt the effects more than the travel and tourism industry. As a result, Stuckey’s Carriage Inn was sold and the new owners changed its name to the Atlantic Carriage Inn. In the 1980s, the resort changed hands again and this time it became a Ramada Inn. The resort was remodeled In 1998, but that couldn’t save it from its sad fate – it was demolished in 2005.
Perhaps the most well-known and the longest running Stuckey’s Carriage Inn, the motel itself was a basic L-shaped two-story mid-century modern design, with direct outside entry to each room and the doors for each room were painted a different pastel color of green, orange, and the like. Outside was the standard motel swimming pool.
The attached family restaurant was very much like the Eastman, Georgia location with its three yellow pyramid-shaped sky-lit roofs. The entrance to the restaurant also featured the iconic Stuckey’s horse-drawn carriage in a tiled mosaic. Visitors often touted the restaurant’s good, old-fashioned home-style country cooking. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Stuckey’s Carriage Inn without its adjoining Stuckey’s Pecan Shoppe.
Once called one of the most elegant motels in south central Illinois, the Stuckey’s Carriage Inn hosted Altamont’s annual Scheutzenfest during its heyday. Scheutzenfest is a traditional German festival or fair that featured target and trap shooting competitions along with German beer and food.
Jacksonville, Florida is probably the most elusive of the four Stuckey’s Carriage Inns that were built, as not much information can be found on this Stuckey’s Carriage Inn location.
Why Jacksonville? Well, maybe because Stuckey’s founder Williamson Sylvester Stuckey, Sr. first opened his roadside lean-to to sell pecans to the tourists traveling along U.S. Route 23 in Eastman, Georgia – a road that ran from Mackinaw City, Michigan to Jacksonville Florida, as it still does today. Therefore, it seemed only fitting that, after making a Stuckey’s stop in Eastman, travelers headed around 3½ hours south to Jacksonville and would probably need a place to relax their weary heads.
Nevertheless, there supposedly was a Stuckey’s Carriage Inn of Florida located at 5230 Norwood Lane in Jacksonville, Florida, listed as being owned by Jacksonville real estate mogul Sam Spevak. Today, a strip mall and fast food joints sit on the property.
There is a rumor that there was also a Stuckey’s Travelers Inn located in Memphis, Tennessee, but very little information on it can be found in our records or on the internet about this location. With that being said, if any of you Stuckey fans out there can supply more information on either the Stuckey’s Carriage Inn of Jacksonville or the Stuckey’s Travelers Inn of Memphis, we’d be much obliged.
Did you ever stay at a Stuckey’s Carriage Inn? Let us know about your experience. We’d love to hear about it.
If this article made you feel a bit nostalgic for Stuckey’s, why not re-live some of the memories you had by visiting a Stuckey’s location near you and taking home some pecan treats for you and the family. No location near you? You can still feel taken back to the good ol’ days every time you bite into one of our Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls by ordering them online. Even on the information superhighway you can find highway happiness with Stuckey’s.
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
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