The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Historic Williams Deluxe Cabins Changing near Exton, PA

When you drive to and from work every day and it takes a good while to get where you're going, any change in the landscape draws your interest.

For some time I've been driving past an abandoned old-fashioned motel complex and thought little of it. Then one of two houses on the property was repaired and repainted, followed by a second. After that, it appears new sewer line has been buried in front of the cabins and a building in the rear of the complex has been completely torn down and is being built anew in the same style and layout from the concrete slab up.

All of this activity led me to a little research. This motel was built in 1937 and was in operation as the Williams Deluxe Cabins near Exton, Pennsylvania, along Route 30. Over time it was also known as The Tudor Motor Inn (c. 1960), and Ichabod's Plaza or Ichabod's News. The office was attached to a gas station, two cabin-like structures with a connecting breezeway. A postcard I've seen of the site in years gone by showed it as an Esso service station.

In 1988 the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and until recently all the structures were boarded up and appeared to be abandoned, despite its NRHP status. It was listed as:
Historic Significance:Event 
Area of Significance:Transportation
Period of Significance:1925-1949
Owner:Private
Historic Function:Domestic
Historic Sub-function:Hotel, Single Dwelling
Current Function:Commerce/Trade, Domestic
Current Sub-function:Hotel, Single Dwelling, Specialty Store (see: http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/PA/Chester/state7.html )
Now, things are changing. I have yet to find out why. If anyone knows and is willing to share, I'd love to find out. Please let me know. Our daughter has hypothesized it's being renovated to be reopened as a hipster retro motel complex. Would that transform the gas station into a coffee shop? What have you heard?

For more information, see: http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Williams_Deluxe_Cabinshttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Williams_Deluxe_Cabins_Chesco_PA.JPG, and https://www.flickr.com/photos/modbetty/sets/72157625305023545/

For a Library of Congress image of just the "deluxe cabins" themselves, see: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.pa3973.photos.202913p/ and for more, see: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/PA3973/ and http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/pa3973.photos.202911p/

If you're really curious, you can join a group talking about the site on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Williams-Deluxe-Cabins/538469026181443

Update: I found another Facebook page for Architectural Concepts PC that stated (in c. 2016) Ichabod's Plaza Originals (7 photos of the buildings and details) with the subtitle "Sneak Peek of a Few Photos Before We Recreate the Magic." This apparently is the architectural firm rebuilding the site. Will Ichabod's Plaza a.k.a. Williams Deluxe Cabins a.k.a. Tudor Motor Inn be returned to service along Route 30, Lincoln Highway, near Exton, PA? Was our daughter correct? See: https://www.facebook.com/pg/architecturalconcepts/photos/?tab=album&album_id=763401560452494

2 comments:

Mark Monzo said...

I share your curiosity. I pass this daily and was a bit dissapointed when I saw them rebuild one of these cabins. Not renovate it. The buildings were left in a state of disrepair and could have been kept up enough to renovete, but now it seems that might be impossible as they are clearly leaking from having aged roofing and i have to believe they are beyond renovation. The new building looks nice, but nothing like the uniqueness of the former small low lying cabins they once were. The new structure is nice, but lacks that quaint unique look of the originals. I guess this will be a one building at a time process and it will take some years before we see a final product. I'm hoping that at least that main structure in front, is restored or rebuilt to look the same and perhaps set up like it's former gas station appearance, if for show purposes only. With some vintage pumps and sineage, it would make a great statement about this locations former glory. Lets hope for the best. I just wish they would share some more information.

J.S. Brooks said...

Thank you for your comments Mark. I'm glad we share this interest. The work continues, as I'm sure you've seen. A second new building has gone up and the line of cabins has been torn down. It looks like a foundation is in place to create more buildings. I'm assuming they will have the look of the one already completed. I too am a little disappointed to see the old buildings go but understand entirely why. Now, we shall have to wait and see what will be done with the front office and gas station remaining out front. In the end, I wonder what use these new structures will be put to when complete. Time will tell. One further mystery, the architecture firm doing the work (according to the Facebook page) has removed the article I cited in this post, leaving only a single detail of one lamp on the property. Thanks again. Looking forward to seeing how all this resolves.