The first Holiday Inn opened in 1952 on Summer Ave. in Memphis, Tennessee. By 1956, partners Kemmons Wilson and Wallace E. Johnson had succeeded in opening 22 more of their clean-image motels. A franchising strategy in 1957 brought the number to 100 by the end of the decade. By 1968, there were 1,000.
The Holiday Inn was one of the ultimate killers of the independent motel, but when the franchise started its ascent, it was still very much modelled after the simple roadside motor court. The tired traveler was beckoned with dazzling neon and the promise of a comfortable night’s stay.