Vacation Motor Hotel
Clarksville, TN
Lorraine Motel
Memphis, TN

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When visiting Tennessee, plan to stop in Memphis - a town that deserves fame and infamy for more than its position as the birthplace of Holiday Inn. Sliding past the theme-park blues ambiance of Beale Street, you encounter a sadly historic remnant in a decaying part of town: the Lorraine Motel, site of Martin Luther King Junior's 1968 assassination. Viewing the horrific photograph of onlookers pointing from a balcony toward the location of the shooting, one often forgets that the Civil Rights leader was killed in a fairly ordinary motor court that would be otherwise condemned and forgotten by now. Indeed, the Lorainne faced demolition in the 1980s before a group of historically minded preservationists rounded up the funds to transform the motel into the National Civil Rights Museum, an impressive display that reminds visitors of the violence and courage that called forth by a nation confronting the sins of its past. While the museum appears to dwarf the tragic climax of King's life, preservationists do history credit by leaving the motel - and the room of his last day - largely as he left it.

Memphis, Knoxville, Helenwood, and KY State Line Motel Postcards (click for larger views)

All text copyright Andrew Wood. Photos copyright Jenny Wood and Andy Wood.