Checking Out

April 18, 1991

Holiday Inn, the Memphis-born company that became the world’s largest hotel chain and international symbol of hospitality, is leaving home.

Executives of Holiday Inn Worldwide made the announcement Wednesday in a series of meetings with nearly 1,700 Memphis-area employees: Beginning May 1 the company will move its North American headquarters to Atlanta and close its extensive Memphis operations within one year.

The first Holiday Inn opened at 4941 Summer Ave., Memphis’ main highway to Nashville, in August 1952 as Holiday Inn Hotel Courts. Kemmons Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road to Washington, D.C., during which he was disappointed by the lack of quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of the time. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the 1942 musical film “Holiday Inn,” starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. According to the Holiday Inn corporate website, there are now nine hotel brands, consisting of 4,600 hotels with 676,000 rooms in 100 countries with hundreds of hotels being planned and built. In this photograph, looking toward the west, Summer Avenue is at right and Mendenhall Road is at top. Courtesy of Memphis and Shelby County Archives.

The first Holiday Inn opened at 4941 Summer Ave., Memphis’ main highway to Nashville, in August 1952 as Holiday Inn Hotel Courts. Kemmons Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road to Washington, D.C., during which he was disappointed by the lack of quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of the time. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the 1942 musical film “Holiday Inn,” starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. According to the Holiday Inn corporate website, there are now nine hotel brands, consisting of 4,600 hotels with 676,000 rooms in 100 countries with hundreds of hotels being planned and built. In this photograph, looking toward the west, Summer Avenue is at right and Mendenhall Road is at top. Courtesy of Memphis and Shelby County Archives.