|1950s - Howard Johnson's Restaurant
thanks to Bill Dennis & researcher R. Delius 10-30-07
| Postcard circa 1950s
Discovered by researcher Robby Delius, the Rockingham Post-Dispatch in
1953 chronicled the exciting news that the citizenry of Richmond County
were soon to enjoy their very own Howard Johnson's Restaurant! The first
of the headlines read, "Deed Howard Johnson Filed."
That first article published on April 16, 1953 announced that "plans have
been drawn and bids asked for contractors for the proposed new Howard
Johnson restaurant to be built half a mile south of Rockingham on Highway
1." The deed indicated that the site consisted of 1.34 acres and was
purchased for a sum of $8,000. Principles in the project were Mitchall
Wallace and Stafford and Associates (along with George K. Kaster who
owned the adjacent Sandman Motel). Chartered in March of 1953, the
parties created Anchor Enterprises to own and manage the franchised
The next news of the HoJo's in the Post-Dispatch announced in the
afternoon edition on May 7, 1953 that "Restaurant Contract is let to
Dickerson of Monroe. Another Unit in the Howard Johnson Chain. Be Ready
by Sept. 1st?" Interestingly the May 7th piece reported that J. A. Cicco
was the Restaurant's architect. Cicco was the chief architect at the
Howard Johnson Company, and thus it is likely that Rockingham's plans
were standard issue. Secondly the paper indicated that "a unique
combination heating and air conditioning unit" was to be installed in the
restaurant which "makes it possible to maintain a constant temperature no
matter what the weather outside." It must have been some sort of
innovative HVAC system that the Company was introducing?
Finally in the last article unearthed by Mr. Delius and published on
September 17, 1953, the nearly open eatery was described as "one of the
handsomest and most complete restaurants in the South." Opening pushed
back to September 28, 1953, the restaurant was to be managed by Tom
Evans who had operated a Howard Johnson's in Charlotte. The restaurant
was said to seat 83 and had been built at a cost of $65,000.
Rockingham was a Howard Johnson's from 1953 until 1972.