Monday, April 7, 2014

Vanishing Beach Motel – Part 1

1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory listing
Right across U.S. Route 6 from the Lorain Diner on the lake side of the highway was the Vanishing Beach Motel. Unfortunately, most of the information about the motel has seemingly vanished along with its beach.

I first became aware of the motel when I saw it listed in the 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory (at left)

Despite the spelling shown in the listing, the owners were Vincent and Josephine Karnik. Previously, they had owned and operated Karnik's Variety Store at 31st and Broadway from 1934 to 1949.

Perhaps the motel was a new endeavor for them after the store was sold.

Listings for the motel in the regular Lorain City Directories didn't occur until a few years later, when that area west of Lorain – still part of Black River Township – began to be included.

By the 1960 directory, the motel had a definite address: 4144 West Erie Avenue.

1960 Lorain City Directory listing
After U.S. 6 was widened to four lanes, and the cloverleaf was constructed near the undercut in the late 1950s, something had to be done about all the businesses previously fronting the highway. Thus, Shore Drive was created as a frontage road north of the highway, and Pueblo Drive was the parallel access road on the south side. 

Consequently, the Vanishing Beach motel was given a new address: 4144 Shore Drive. As you can see, the motel had Shore Drive almost all to itself in 1963 (below).

1963 Lorain City Directory listing
Curiously, I could not locate a single yellow page ad – or even a listing in the white pages – for the motel in the telephone book, through the years. How did it stay in business?

Apparently, its sole advertising – other than its annual listing in the city directory – consisted of a highway billboard. An August 1962 article in the Chronicle-Telegram about Lake Erie pollution makes reference to a Vanishing Beach Motel billboard along that stretch of the highway.

It must have worked, because the motel lasted a lot longer than I would have expected.

Next: The motel today

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