September 29, 2014 Mid-Century Modern

Modern Snapshot: Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, N.J.


Summer is over but the Washington Post Travel section is hanging on with its review yesterday of the “Doo Wop” style Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, N.J. The mid-century modern motel was purchased in 2004 by Carolyn Emigh, an Arlington lawyer and her partner George Miller. The motel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, features a levitating ramp to the second story, canted glass walls, recessed “spaceship” lights and the first plastic palm trees to be used in the Wildwoods.

Caribbean Motel

“The motel in Wildwood, on the Jersey Shore, is one of the items preserved in the beach town’s living time capsule,” Andrea Sachs writes in the Post. “The Doo Wop Motel District, a two-mile stretch between Atlantic and Ocean avenues, is neon-lit with more than 50 motels — including the Caribbean — dating from the era of drive-ins, bobby socks and ­skyscraper-high hairstyles.”

Caribbean Motel

Less than 200 miles from Washington, the Wildwoods (Wildwood, North WildwoodWildwood Crest) at the Jersey shore have one of the country’s largest concentration of mid-century commercial architecture from the 1950s and ’60s. The architecture of the motels, diners, restaurants and vintage neon signs reflect the era’s fascination with the automobile, air and space travel and all things Tiki/Polynesian. Many of the Doo Wop motels in Wildwood were built by Will and Lou Morey.

With more than 100 Doo Wop buildings having been destroyed amid the boom in real estate, the National Trust for Historic preservation named the Doo Wop motels to its “Most Endangered” list in 2006. Check out the Doo Wop Preservation League’s good website for more info on the mid-century architecture of Wildwood.

As the weather cools and the crowds disappear, it is a good time to go explore the wild, mid-century designs at the shore.