Since this is the year I decided to focus on my own creative projects, I’m introducing one to you! Plus some of my photography and mid-century mod discoveries that make up a theme I call “Retro Fairfax.”
The bold red and turquoise and whimsical banner design of the 1950s Breezeway Motel sign on Fairfax Boulevard (formerly Route 29) caught my eye since I was a preteen, eating dinner with my family at the Italian restaurant Dolce Vita across the street. At night, the populuxe design is a beaming retro sight to see (albeit somewhat deteriorating at this point). I have always loved to write, and I recall my parents saying something like…”you could write a story about the Breezeway Motel.” Of course thirteen-year-old me brushed off the suggestion, but now, in my thirties, that changed. I moved back to Northern Virginia in 2018 determined to find all the area’s groovy relics from the Mad Men era, and a newfound desire to write about the Breezeway Motel.
Despite its rapid development, if you look closely, you’ll see that Northern Virginia (and Fairfax County, of which I’m a resident), still retains some of its colorful mid-century flair, especially along Fairfax Boulevard. The 1950s were a time of great development in Fairfax County, when an influx of people moved to the area from other states and countries, and what was once farmland and woodland met with a housing and tourist boom. Motels opened up throughout the area to accomodate newcomers and streams of tourists to the Washington, D.C. area, including the Breezeway and Anchorage motels that you can still see in Fairfax today.
Where did the travelers eat? Diners, of course! The 29 Diner, opened in 1947, is an original model made by the Mountain View Diners Company in Singac, New Jersey. The building was brought to Fairfax by D.T. “Bill” Glascock, who would run the diner with his wife Elvira “Curly” for the first few years. The 29 Diner is just down the road from the Breezeway Motel and a little further from Anchorage Motel, making it the perfect local place for a stop on a road trip.
If you do visit the 29 Diner (now on the National Register of Historic Places), bring a big appetite-I highly recommend the breakfast selections, and the milkshakes are fabulous–and huge (as seen in the picture). Definitely worth an Instagram shot! And of course knowing me and my penchant for music, you can surmise my happiness upon seeing an original late 1950s Seeburg “222” jukebox:
If you’re a mid-century style buff, or just interested in quirky and colorful places in the Washington, D.C. area, check out the retro side of Fairfax and visit the 29 Diner, a piece of living history. I’m thinking of selling some of my “Retro Fairfax” photography, and since 2020 is the year I’m getting serious about my projects, there IS a novel in progress that ties in some of these Retro Fairfax locations. Women’s empowerment in the early 1960s plays a big role in the theme, as well as the changes Fairfax underwent structurally and socially during that time. I would tell you more, but I have to return to my writing now that the Superbowl hubbub is done with (happy for the Chiefs even though I’m more of a food and halftime show kinda gal). You’re going to have to wait for the next posts to stay hip!
Until next time,
March 5, 2021 at 12:30 am
Happy to find this little homage to mid-century modern Fairfax. THANKS for these terrific photos.
My lifelong fondness for MCM was from being on this strip of rt. 50. Eating at Bob’s Diner (and House of Beef) (just off of Fairfax Circle) and occcasionally at Howard Johnson’s (right on the circle), I loved the old motels, the Chilla Villa, Lord Fairfax, Holly Hill (or something like that), Anchorage, Hy-Way, Boulevard, and most of all – the Breezeway. Going to movies at the Fairfax Theater (now a car dealer), and the immense Fairfax Circle Cinema. I went to GMU (class of 1984) and was ALWAYS at the Tastee Diner – looks nice in these photos – cleanerthan I remember it. Nextdoor was an auto repair shop where EVERYONE took their VW Beetles to (John’s Auto, I think).
Kind regards – Mark.
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March 5, 2021 at 3:28 pm
Thanks for the compliments Mark and thanks for sharing your memories. I love the MCM colors and shapes-so happy- and am glad we still have some in this area! It must’ve been really cool to have seen and experienced all of places you mentioned. -E.