Despite motels being commonplace today, the opening of John’s Motel at Sovereign and Pacific Avenues was a celebrated event in 1953. At the time, Atlantic City was known for its grand hotels, but tourism had declined, and many of these older buildings found themselves in dire need of remodeling without the funds to do so. Meanwhile, the “motel craze” was sweeping the tourism industry, offering families low-cost, no frills lodging. Seeing the success of the new trend in other cities, Frances and John Ginnetti decided to build a motel in Atlantic City. Although many initially bristled at the idea, lawmakers eventually got behind it, hoping that lower fares and newer facilities would again attract tourists. Commissioner Richard Jackson even did the honors at the dedication of John’s Motel. Its first guests were F.G. Lovelady of Ontario, Canada, and his son. Initially, the motel only had 8 rooms, and all of the work was done by the owners until they could save enough money to hire help. Later success led to the addition of more rooms on top of the original 8, and to the adjacent John’s Motel II.  H009.647.94Joh1418
 H084.Johns001  John's Motel on Pacific Avenue in 1955.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H009.647.94Joh1418.
 Postcard for John's Motel II, undated.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Johns001.

Soon, there was a motel boom in every section of Atlantic City. Many stately old Boardwalk hotels even had their own “motel wings” constructed in order to offer cheaper and more attractive options. In the late 1970s, John’s Motel was honored with a plaque commemorating its status as the city’s first motel. By then, however, focus in the city had shifted to the new casino industry, and fewer families nationwide chose motel vacations. John’s Motel shut its doors in 1982 after a string of robberies at the business.

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
City Directories
H040 Living History collection – Oral History interview with Frances Ginnetti


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