- Associated Press - Sunday, March 20, 2016

MANNS CHOICE, Pa. (AP) - Seventy years ago, the Lincoln Motor Court would have been an unremarkable pull-off along the nation-spanning Lincoln Highway - just one of many roadside rest stops in Bedford County.

Today, the U-shaped collection of 12 tiny cottages between Bedford and Schellsburg is the only place of its kind left in the county. A symbol of the golden age of highway travel, the Lincoln Motor Court was added this month to a national list of historic commercial stops that could one day disappear.

“There’s just always something crumbling,” said Debbie Altizer, who for 33 years has co-owned the court with her husband, Bob. “It’s hard to maintain these little buildings.”

The Lincoln Motor Court, located along the Lincoln Highway west of Bedford, is one of the last cottage-style motels still in operation along the famed highway. The heritage site is in danger of one day disappearing.

After Altizer submitted a nomination, the Arkansas-based Society for Commercial Archaeology included the court in its 2016 “Falling By the Wayside” list. The court is one of four sites nationwide included in this year’s list.

Built sometime between 1938 and 1941, the Lincoln Motor Court served as a rest stop for weary travelers on the highway, which stretched from New York City to San Francisco. Unlike motels and hotels, many motor courts consisted of several separate cottages for couples or families.

The court’s cottages maintain their 1940s look where possible, and in-room phones and air conditioning aren’t included, according to the Bedford County tourism website.

“We can fit four (in a cottage), but you have to be very friendly,” Altizer said.

As the years passed and travel habits changed, motor courts disappeared one-by-one. Some were converted into cheap motels; others were left stranded and remain empty today.

The few that remain stand as symbols of an earlier time, joining local Lincoln Highway landmarks like the 1927 “Coffee Pot” building in Bedford and the Grand View Point Hotel (which burned down in 2001). Others remain standing, but few are fully open to the public like the Lincoln Motor Court.

In fact, the court is the only such business on the Lincoln Highway that still takes overnight guests, according to preservation groups.

“We’re one-of-a-kind Americana,” Altizer said. “The old folks remember these places.”

With the help of preservationists, Altizer has pushed for official recognition that could help preserve the site. Leaky roofs, damaged foundations and old paint can be expensive and time-consuming to fix, especially for a couple working seven days a week to keep the business running.

In 2014, the nonprofit group Preservation Pennsylvania added the motor court to its “at-risk” list, prompting a team of volunteers to help fix the buildings. The group repainted dozens of windows and helped fix a damaged roof, Altizer said, but much remains to be done.

The court’s addition to the Society for Commercial Archeology list could help draw public attention, as could Altizer’s ongoing effort to secure a National Register of Historic Places listing. Even a partial change to the site could harm its historic character, preservationists have argued.

“Losing some of the cottages would drastically change the character and design of this unique roadside resource,” the Society for Commercial Archeology’s representatives said in a news release.

Recognition from government agencies and nonprofit preservation groups could also help the Altizers secure much-needed grants. The couple has worked for years to get money for repairs - not always an easy task for a for-profit business.

“In 33 years, we definitely haven’t got rich from it,” Altizer said. “But it’s a love relationship. It’s like restoring old cars.”





Information from: Altoona Mirror, https://www.altoonamirror.com

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