Richmond Highway will always be known for its old motels. They sprung up between the late 1920s and 1960s, coinciding with the so-called golden age of the automobile. The motels served tourists and businessmen traveling to the D.C. area.
Many motels were owned by local residents — some even lived in their motel. Older Richmond Highway residents can recall an era when the motels were part of the community, with children enjoying summer days at motel swimming pools.
But as the D.C. area grew and the interstate highways were built, the Route 1 motels lost their luster with travelers. Many motels faded away, while other hung on by catering to transient workers, low-income families and people down on their luck. Fairfax County even used some of the motels for low-income housing.
Today only a few of these relics exist. And although there is little nostalgia for the quirky motels that once dominated the highway — none are listed on Fairfax County’s inventory of historic places — Route 1’s history can’t be told without acknowledging them.
After taking the quiz, enjoy this gallery of postcard and images of some of the old motels that once dotted the highway: