Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

History

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Robert R. Weyeneth

Abstract

The Waikiki Village Motel, built in 1963, embodies the Modern style of architecture that was prolific throughout the mid-century period in America. This building type constituted the majority of the development of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina during this era, but much of it has been lost to more modern development. The L-shape design and Hawaiian-style hut demonstrate the Modern form as an affordable destination for middle-class fun. The motel characterizes the boom in resort style development prevalent in the Palmetto State’s Grand Strand after the destruction by Hurricane Hazel in 1954. It also represents the idea of “Populuxe” – forward thinking, modern, and populist during the mid-1900s – but is now seen as a past way of life inhibiting future development.

The span from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s was the zenith of growth and prosperity in Myrtle Beach due to the blank canvas left by Hurricane Hazel’s destruction. S. M. Johnston, a local businessman, took advantage of cheap land and an ocean front view and built a motel that would serve the community for years to come. It stands as a testament to the early years of development in the beach town and the beginning of Myrtle Beach’s tourist-driven economy. The same family has owned and operated the motel since 1970, demonstrating that a Mom-and-Pop run establishment can still be prosperous in the twenty-first century.

The Waikiki Village contributed to the growth of Myrtle Beach as a tourist destination in the South. It provided modern amenities, had the right location, and was automobile friendly. The wave of Modern motels that hit Myrtle Beach in the post-Hazel years would define vacationing and leisure for growing middle class families as an escape from the mundane that was not too far from home and was also affordable. The Hawaiian style of the motel and ocean view gave visitors the sense that they were traveling to exotic locales like Honolulu, Hawaii, not Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but all accessible through the family’s stylish and affordable new automobile. This automobile would be the conduit that lured in visitors by their roadside signs and quirky attractions.

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