Commonwealth Journal

News Live

October 12, 2013

End of an era quickly approaching for historic Somerset motel

(Continued)

Somerset —

Room rates were low, compared to today’s overnight charges. A single room was $3 a night and a room with two double beds was $12.
“Tobacco markets were flourishing then and a lot of buyers and auctioneers stayed there during the tobacco-selling season,” Baker said. “We had a lot of salesmen who stayed regularly with us.”
“It was a family operated business,” said Baker. “We lived at the motel. The office stayed open 24 hours a day. Sunday morning was the only time the office was closed while we went to church.”
Somerset Court Motel was built on what then was U.S. 27. In the mid-1950s the “Truck Route” opened, taking U.S. 27 on a straight route between Somerset and Burnside.
Before that, U.S. 27 went through downtown Somerset, down Wait’s Hill, through part of Johnson’s Block and then veered right through the railroad underpass and up what is now Old Monticello Street hill to Somerset Court Motel and beyond.
“My grandfather was a good friend of Arthur Prather,” said Baker. Prather was Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler’s contact person in Pulaski County.
 When the “Truck Route” opened, the elder Baker constructed a small road leading from the new U.S. 27 to the motel. A large Somerset Court Motel sign directed travelers off the “Truck Route” to the lodging place.
A.C. Baker was an entrepreneur. Before coming to Somerset, he owned a large truck stop north of Chattanooga near the Kentucky-Tennessee line. Initially, on coming to Somerset, he built and operated a skating rink at the Somerset Court Motel location.
The skating rink burned and the motel was built in its place. A service station and restaurant were adjacent to the original motel. All the while, A.C. Baker was involved in numerous business ventures.
 

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