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59 South Road Trip Photos


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We haven't been in Houston too long, so all of these things may be common knowledge amongst the HoustonMod crowd, but I was pleasantly surprised about our little road trip to Victoria and back on 59. Not quite Route 66, but lots of interesting things.

Working in reverse order coming back to town:

1) This is a restaurant in Victoria. You can't tell from the picture but at night the indian shoots a neon arrow over from the sign at the side of the road to the restaurant. Didn't actually eat here, so don't know what it was like inside.


2) Great motel in El Campo. The metal staircase wraps around the palm tree in the middle. Their kidney-shaped pool had been filled in and was not just a grass lawn with a kidney-shaped outline of concrete.


3) Finally to Wharton, the focal point of our road trip. This is the 20th Century Technology Museum. Unfortunately we were having such a nice time inside we didn't take any pictures except for this one. It was closed the day we were down but the woman that owns it with her husband came down anyway to give us a tour. It's a really endearing little spot. Kind of like walking into an antique store without any junk in the way. Lots of MCM applicances and such.


4) This is the art deco theater that has been restored and hosts community theater events.


5) We stayed at the Tee Pee Motel, which has been discussed on HAIF before. Another really great story. Basically a local couple won the lottery and their dream has always been to restore this motel. It was originally built much earlier than I expected. I think around 1948.



6) Tee Pee sign at night and during the day



7) Wharton's dimunitive answer to Claude Bell


8) Also in Wharton, I have no idea how old this would be, but I find the idea of people immediately paying their parking ticket but dropping money into a box quaint.


9) Finally, the real find of our trip. This is a building at the Wharton County Historical Museum. The outside has the carousel/Cohen House vibe.


And inside housed this crazy mid-century trophy room. It was full of stuff I'm pretty sure you can't kill any more, even in Africa -- A giraffe, an elephant, a polar bear. The room was amazingly swank and looks completely unchanged since the 60's. I'm sure somebody here had to have gone to this place on a field trip as a kid and is still having nightmares.

The room is built around a circular copper fireplace.


The benches are beautiful, but for the fact that those zebra cushions really are zebra hides.


One close up of a few of the animals


10) Although not photographed, old Rosenberg is also highly recommended.

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El Campo Restaurant postcard states Finest on the Gulf Coast Highway 59- Designed on a triangular theme. Now it's a mexican food restaurant with additions.


White Lodge Motel

1503 East Jackson/U.S. Highway 59

El Campo, Texas


Calhoun County Court House

Port Lavaca, Texas

Rustay & Martin Architects

This is a beautiful late 1950s MOD courthouse- the type always ignored in books about courthouses. A seemingly appropriate renovation and addition has recently been completed.




Edited by SpaceAge
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Great photos. Thank you so much for posting. How was the Teepee motel? And, tell us some more about the 20th century technology museum.

The Teepee Motel was actually a little nicer than I expected inside. Everything is new because there was basically nothing left to salvage from the old structures. The only disappointment was that the ceiling inside was flat. I had always pictured the sheetrocking to extend all the way up to the point at the top. A pleasant surprise was that each room had its own bathroom. I just figured that one teepee was just a communal bathroom. The fact that someone took their lottery winnings to do this alone should be reason to go. If you want things like this to be saved, you have to support and patron the people and places that have taken the risk.

The 20th Century Technology Museum is in the old (I think late 19th century?) jail in Wharton. Started by a husband and wife. His family had owned the local electronics store for at least two generations, so he had this collection of old radios and TVs. There is a room with a lot of domestic items - fridge, dishwasher, washing machine, etc. The wife gave us a tour and could not possibly have been any nicer. I'm sure some HoustonMod people are aware of the museum because she said she had spoken to Don Emmitt before when there was that exhibit at UofH. The pieces at the museum aren't as pristine as the ones from the UofH show, but I like the fact that they were actually used for their intended purpose.

Combined makes a great weekend. Would love to organize a group of mod-minded people to go down when the weather is better and make a weekender of it. We could rent the entire set of teepees for one night and have a BBQ. I'm sure there is more stuff we didn't discover.

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