Craving the vintage vibe of yesteryear?

The last motor court on the historic Lincoln Highway is open and welcoming travelers to southern Pennsylvania. It’s also one of the last motor courts in the U.S.

Built in 1940, the Lincoln Motor Court has been operated by Debbie and Bob Altizer since the '80s. The Altizers left their home and jobs in D.C. in search of solitude, freedom, and lots of space. They found it along the Lincoln Highway (U.S. Route 30) in Bedford County, a small community in south-central Pennsylvania.

front porch

Courtesy: Lincoln Motor Court Facebook

The motor court is made up of 12 individual free-standing cottage-type “cabins,” complete with a front porch with two vintage metal chairs. You’ll even get a real key with a plastic keychain. Amenities include cable TV, refrigerators, heat, and microwaves. It’s also pet-friendly.  

Gone the way of drive-in movie theaters, soda fountains, and carhop food service, motor courts got their start in the early 1900s when automobile travel was more affordable, roads improved, and overnight stays became necessary. Farmers often turned fields into campgrounds or built small cabins. And, thus, the birth of the motor court.

Bob Altizer said in an interview,

“A lot of people experienced their ‘firsts’ in a motor court. The rooms often featured cutting-edge innovations such as linoleum flooring, wall-to-wall carpeting, box spring mattresses, electricity, plumbing, and central heat.”

Historically speaking, the concept of the motor court came before the motels and hotels of today. The term “motel” was first used around 1925 and is a combination of “motor” and “hotel.” The word motel refers to a single building with connected rooms that have doors facing the parking lot, whereas a motor court is usually free-standing cottages or cabins.

While Route 66 gets all the attention of roadtrippers, the Lincoln Highway came first. It was established in 1913 as the nation’s first transcontinental road. The road starts in NYC in Times Square and ends in San Francisco, California.

motor court

Courtesy: Lincoln Motor Court Facebook

The Altizers have restored the motor court from its days of shady characters and questionable motives to quaint and down-home-like accommodations. Rooms have retro and period-correct furnishings and décor such as metal chairs, a vintage wedding dress, and knotty pine paneling. Handmade quilts and embroidered tablecloths give that cozy feel. The couple lives in the 800-square-foot central cottage with their two daughters.

Often booked two months in advance, the Lincoln Motor Court has many repeat guests, and sometimes families rent out a whole week or weekend for reunions and special occasions.

motor court sign

Courtesy: Lincoln Motor Court Facebook

While the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down business, as it has with everything, the Lincoln Motor Court remains open for business. It’s near Shawnee State Park and Lake, covered bridges, the 1806 church, Fort Bedford, a bison farm, and roadside attractions like a coffee pot-shaped building.

Check out their website for booking information.

Have you been to the Lincoln Motor Court? What about some other motor court? Let us know in the comments.