Vintage Postcard – Thunderbird Motor Hotel – Jacksonville, Florida
Thunderbird motor hotel
TELEVISION ♦ SWIMMING POOL ♦ RESTAURANT
AIR CONDITIONED ♦ ROOM TELEPHONES
For advance reservations TWX – JK 159
to Alt. U.S. 1 & Alt. U.S. 90 – PO Box 8731
Arlington Station, Jacksonville 11, Florida
CUB Products True Color Reproduction
This lovely vintage postcard was mailed from Sarasota on July 23, 1960 using a four cent purple Lincoln stamp to Mrs. Birchard [sic] Coar, 521 Gorden Rd, DeKalb, Illinois. It reads:
7/22 Dear Hazel and Birchard,
Just returned today from Tallahassee and Jacksonville. Had wonderful time – stayed here; much lovelier than the picture shows – your two cards were a nice “greeting” when I returned as my house is lonesome at times especially after a nice trip and friends – will write letter real soon – love to you both, Florence.
Love this card. Love. Doesn’t the blonde remind you of Nancy Drew, preparing to solve the Mystery the the Motel? The pool umbrellas are excellent. The sparkling water is so inviting. Looks like Mr. White Shirt has a pitcher of iced tea, just waiting for you!
There are other cards from this motor hotel available. One has this description: 300 Luxurious rooms, Gourmet Dining Room, 2 Lounges with Live Entertainment, Complete Convention Facilities, Only minutes from Downtown and the Gator Bowl, Location is close to everything and offers the ultimate in service. For reservations call 1 – 800-323-1776 or 904 – 724-3410 r write 5865 Arlington Expressway, Jacksonville, Florida 32211. Located US 1 and Alt. 90 East.
The Thunderbird apparently went through some changes through the years. This article from jacksonville.com in 2004 notes that the motor hotel at the time had recently been a Ramada Inn Conference Center until it was purchased for $2.65 million by Bethel Baptist Institutional Church for use as a Baptist conference center. The article also notes Bethelite Inc. bought the property from Jax Hotel LLC, part of Orix Capital Markets LLC of Dallas, which bought the property in 2000. “For some years, the hotel operated as the popular Thunderbird Dinner Theatre and Thunderbird Motor Hotel, and longtimers might recall the headlines generated when actress Ann Sothern sued the business after being injured there during a performance 30 years ago.”
Google News has the Ann Sothern story here, “leaning on a cane and favoring a bandaged ankle, actress Ann Sothern told a circuit court jury Tuesday that an October 1973 accident at a motel here ended her career.” She was apparently beaned with a heavy pole and sued the former owners of the hotel for $2,500. Interested in the details? The court documents are available online here.
Anyhow, back to the motor hotel. A May 16, 2014 article in the Florida Times Union notes “the long-closed Bethelite Conference Center on Arlington Expressway has been sold to a South American development company.” That’s right, folks. The Baptists were only a temporary salvation for the Thunderbird, and apparently sold it at a loss. “TIE 209 Investments LLC, based in Miami, paid $1,250,000 for property, a former Ramada Inn Conference Center, which consists of 11 buildings with 172,000 square feet on 18.79 acres.” The article said that the place had been closed for some time and had suffered vandalism while empty.
Here’s a satellite (courtesy Google) that shows the pool: