Friday, July 2, 2010

Why I Haven't Mentioned the White Haven Story

Awesome classic neon sign will be auctioned July 2 at 1130. (KC Star photo)

The White Haven Motor Lodge over in Overland Park has closed and is having an auction of its contents. The motel was a long time fixture in Overland Park, and was just sold two years ago by its original owners. The new owners just couldn't make a go of it, so they closed it. I haven't noted it before now, because it hits a little too close to home for me.

My parents ditched New York and moved to Vermont and opened a country inn. I grew up in that inn, and while I had no interest in being an inn keeper myself, I was very proud of what my parents built. I also worked in and on the inn through my junior high and high school years. After about 30 years, my parents decided to retire and sold the inn. The new owners lasted, maybe three years. The inn is closed now, the buildings bank owned.

So, this news story, that is a little bit of a curiosity to some and the passing of an era to many, hits me just a little deeper. The owners seem pretty at peace with it, although it does have to sting. When you part from your baby, I think you just have to go with the flow. Even if that's not easy.

Link: Landmark Overland Park motel closes after 53 years. The Star has other articles and pictures as well.

Esther White, former owner and Sheila White Berry, her daughter, display a photo from the building of the motel. (KC Star)

More photos after the jump.

A wide view of the front of the motel, from Metcalf Avenue. The pool is in the foreground. (KC Star)

In a picture from a 2007 story on the motel one of the chamber maids cleans a room. Yup, I vacuumed my way through high school, just like this. (KC Star photo)

The Whites visit with former guests that stopped by during the auction today. (KC Star photo)
Vintage postcard of the the motel. Check out how the phone number is rendered. How many of you all are old enough to remember exchanges with names? (KC Star photo)
One of the rooms--you wouldn't find this at your Holiday Inn--and this is subdued! (Pitch photo)


Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Oh, I hate to see it go! Especially the funky sign. It's gorgeous.

It does not go with the Flaming French Headboard, though.

Thanks for posting! What a great set of pics!

Ann T.

Bob G. said...

My, oh my...does THAT take me back to gentler times...
WHile never having stayed at THAT paricualr motwl, when Dad took us on vacations along the eastern seaboard (and through Pennsy), I remeber those nice bright NOENS welcoming "us" to their rather nice rooms.

Skyline Drive, VA, Ox-Yoke Inn (PA), and so many more than were almost as nice as staying in a roopm that MOM had cleaned.
Rooms back then were IMMACULATELY KEPT.
The "chamber=maids" were attentive, scrupulous in the manner they cleaned a room, and always made you feel more "than justa guest for the night"...

We shall never see such times again...sadly.

the observer said...

Ann T:
Yes, that is a fabulous sign and thankfully it will be saved by the Johnson County Museum who bought it.

The motel was located in the part of Overland Park that developed first, and it's going to be interesting to see what happens next. I hope not another boring strip mall. I would rather see residential development. Kansas City metro is getting too spread out, time to fill the holes in the doughnut.

Re: The Flaming French Headboard (it does deserve caps, doesn't it?) All the rooms had them--they lent a particular air of amazing that I don't think you'll see any more.

No doubt about it, the dismantling of this motel is a cultural loss--this being one of the earliest manifestations of the US car culture.

The Observer

the observer said...

Bob G.
Yes, "gentler times"--well put. When folks stopped to stay with my parents, they were a bit more than "guests". Many developed relationships that lasted many years. When my father passed away suddenly, one family came to help my mother with the funeral reception. Their help was invaluable. It's that relationship development that is going to be missing going forward.

The Whites experienced this too, as former guests came in number for the events of the last two days. A conscientious innkeeper can have a bounty of warm relationships with guests.

We do have our memories, and maybe as the new generations grow up, the "gentle way" will be rediscovered.


Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Now that I have calmed down from my own stuff, I must come back to this post.

I am glad the museum bought the sign! It is a cultural treasure. And frankly I wish I had one of those Flaming French Headboards. Talk about a statement. Of course it won't match my bedspread, but would I care?

But most of all, I am in sympathy with your feelings of regret. I find that many beautiful or funny things have lost usefulness, and it seemingly calls into question our relevance. I feel this a lot and on a good day, I know it is false.

Bob said it right--we remember (or in this case, you remember) that sense of community, also learning about work and qualities that make even modest enterprises outstanding.

Now all that sounds like a training gimmick, but it's still a way of life that is surely relevant out there.

Anyway, this time I was looking at the mother-daughter photo. That is also a beautiful shot of what family can be, too.

Thanks for sharing it all!
Ann T.

the observer said...

Ann T:
Thanks for stopping by and offering more excellent commentary. It makes me a bit wistful, this story. Technically, this is a bit of wandering out of south Kansas City, MO, but I know we would be talking over the table about this.

I was trying to find on line an image of the terrific neon sign that used to be in from of Truman Corners Shopping Center in Grandview, MO but have bupkis so far. If I find it, I'll post it. It was cool!

Wishing you a great Independence Day!

The Observer

Anonymous said...

I lived in O.P. from 1984 - 1995. My parents still live there and I'm always looking for information about Metcalf South Mall and all of the other places that used to be during my time there (Glenwood Theater, King Louie for ice skating, Venture at 95th, et al). It's especially sad to see that the White Haven is gone. I always loved seeing the sign on the way in... Very sad indeed. And as one reader said, gentler times are gone. Now that I have my own young son, it saddens me to think about my childhood and the days of the road trip (and no seat belts)! Simpler, happier times.

Thanks for this wonderful story.

Kelley in Chicago