Places to Stay

Enjoy the Vintage Charm of the Harbord Kourt Motel in Coleman

By  | 

In our modern world, with sprawling resort hotels, offering spa services, room service, and waterparks, it’s hard to imagine when motor courts and motels were the norm. Basically, just a place to lay one’s sleepy head after a long day on the road, motels and motor courts were plentiful in small-town America. One of these, The Harbord Kourt Motel, located in Coleman (just southeast of Abilene) has recently been renewed and reopened and is ready to serve modern-day visitors and road trippers.

A Brief History of the Motor Court Concept

motor court

Photo: Flickr/Patrick Dirden

During the early days of the auto tourist, roadside camping was the best option for dusty travelers who either wanted to avoid the formality of the downtown hotel or simply found themselves in need of rest far from civilization and lodging. According to the website Vintage Roadside, entrepreneurial-minded families and business owners saw an opportunity in catering to these travelers by establishing camps with rustic, box-like cabins offering a bit of privacy and protection from the outdoors.

In the mid-1930s, simple cottage camps began to evolve into more sophisticated full-service motor courts with standardized layouts. Due to increasing land values and the need for more economy, individual cabins lining the road were no longer practical. Many of the new motor courts tended toward a U-shaped design, with cottages set perpendicular to the road. Semi-circular drives, often featuring a central common area with lush landscaping, allowed motorists easy access to their room after a quick check in at the centrally located office.

Superhighways Killed The Motor Court

Harbord Kourt Motel

Photo: Facebook/Harbord Kourt Motel

After decades of booming business, “mom and pop” run motels began a slow downward slide in 1956 with the passing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act. This long-range plan called for 40,000 miles of interstate superhighways to be built across the country. Unfortunately, these new highways often bypassed existing motor courts and motels or blocked traffic to their location with limited on and off ramp access. With little means to move their facilities or re-route traffic, mom and pop gems of the road eventually gave way to corporate chains staking their claims along the new interstates.

Modern Updates and Vintage Charm

Harbord Kourt Motel
Photo: Facebook/Harbord Kourt Motel

Page 1 of 2:12