August 28, 2008 Mid-Century Modern

Wildwood: Mid-Century Mecca at the Beach

With summer coming to a close, why not take one more trip to the beach while checking out cool mid-century architecture. Less than 200 miles from Washington, the Wildwoods (Wildwood, North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest) at the Jersey shore have 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. The architectural style in Wildwood was dubbed Googie. 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.

One of the quintessential Doo Wop motels built by the pair is the Caribbean Motel, which 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. Interested in doing in owning your own MCM hotel? The Eden Roc is for sale for $2.4 million.

If you plan to go, check out the Doo Wop Preservation League for great information and a map to the area. Also check out this site and this one.

Here’s a video of images of Wildwood from the 1960s.

This is a short documentary on preservation efforts in Wildwood.