The original Holiday Inn
chain of hotels was founded in 1952 in Memphis, Tennessee, by homebuilder Kemmons Wilson to provide inexpensive family accommodation for travelers within the USA. Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn in September 1952 at 4941 Summer Avenue in the Berclair district of Memphis on the main road to and from Nashville. In 1954, Wilson incorporated the chain with Wallace E. Johnson.
Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road trip to Washington, DC, during which he was disappointed by the quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of that era. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the Bing Crosby movie.
In 1957, Wilson franchised the chain as Holiday Inn of America, and it grew dramatically, following Wilson's original tenet that the properties should be standardized, clean, predictable, family-friendly, and readily accessible to road travelers. By 1958 there were 50 Inns across the country, 100 by 1959, 500 by 1964, and the 1000th Holiday Inn opened in San Antonio, Texas, in 1968. The chain dominated the motel market, leveraged its innovative Holidex reservation system, put considerable financial pressure on traditional hotels, and set the standard for its competitors like Ramada Inns, Quality Inn, Howard Johnson's, and Best Western. By June 1972, when Wilson was featured on the cover of Time magazine, there were over 1,400 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. Innovations like the company's Holidome indoor pools turned many hotels into roadside resorts.
The company later branched into other related enterprises, including Medi-Center nursing homes, Continental Trailways, Delta Queen, and various related enterprises. Wilson also later developed the Orange Lake Resort and Country Club near Orlando and a chain called Wilson World Hotels. The family of founder Kemmons Wilson still operates hotels as part of the Kemmons Wilson Companies of Memphis.
Wilson retired from Holiday Inn in 1979.
Close Up of Vignette:
Common Capital Stock, issued in the 1970’sPrinter: Security-Columbian Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: TN-Tennessee Subject Matter: Hotels and Motels
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Vertical fold lines, punch hole and machine cancels in signature areas and body, toning and edge faults from age.