The oldest motel in Somerset may soon be torn down to make way for an assisted living facility.
The 70-year-old Economy Inn, formerly Somerset Court Motel, at 422 Monticello Street, will be purchased by the city, according to Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. A local nursing home facility will buy the property from the city and construct an assisted living complex, Girdler said.
The motel and apartment complex is still in operation. A city hall source said purchase of the motel property is in process “ ... but the city hasn’t written a check yet.”
Bill Baker, 218 Walnut Avenue, grew up in the motel. His late grandfather, A.C. Baker, built the motel in 1943 and operated it until selling the business to his son and wife, Rudy and Billie Baker, for $64,000 in 1960. The younger Bakers owned and operated the motel until 1984 when they sold it to Dr. and Mrs. M.H. Radmanesh for $130,000. The Radmaneshes after some 20 years sold it to a Patel family, the current operators. Sometime after the Bakers sold the motel, the name was changed to Economy Inn.
The original motel had 17 units, numbered 1 through 18, skipping No. 13 “ ... I guess because it’s an unlucky number,” laughed Bill Baker. An addition was built in 1951 that increased the number of units to 35, including efficiency apart-ments.
“The addition opened during the summer of 1951 at the same time the first boat-racing event was held on Lake Cumberland,” Baker said. Gates at Wolf Creek Dam were closed in December 1950 and the lake filled more quickly than expected because of heavy rains.
“Our efficiency apartments weren’t quite finished and guests for the boat races needed lodging so badly they helped us move furniture into the unfinished apartments,” Baker remembers.
“We were the first motel in Somerset to have telephones and paid television in rooms,” Baker recalled. The 21-inch black-and-white television sets were equipped with a coin box. Put a quarter in a slot in the coin box and you got TV for an hour.