18 July 2008

Lost City: Wisconsin Edition: Showers and Air-Conditioning

Never did find out the name of this motel—which certainly does look like a hotel to me—in Algoma, Wisconsin. A sad, but strangely inviting little Tudor affair on the main drag. Bar downstairs. Sign on the side says it all: "Motel and Cocktail Lounge. Vacancy. 12 Rooms With Showers Open Year Round." The "Vacancy" part is painted on. There's also a vacancy here. The sign along the side trumpets "Air-Conditioning"—always an attraction.

Other delights in old Algoma, which sits on Lake Michigan's shore and is fantastically preserved: this canopied, stucco, single-pump gas station, right out of the 1950s. And in the center of the downtown, too.

Algoma was once big enough to have a Bank of Algoma, even if it was a narrow bit of business. Still: two gigantic pillars. Now an insurance outfit.

And the Stebbins Hotel, about 150 years old and still in business. This is what a grand regional hotel looked like a century ago. There's a sweet dining room inside, and wooden phone booths. It's been kept up and it run by a family—the latest in a successful of families that has operated the hotel.

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