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The Casey Motel on Highway 69
North of Ames
North Ames was well served by Casey Motel and convenient Topahollow Inn across Highway 69. The motel is located at the address known today as 3905 Dawes Drive.In the 1950s, Casey Motel, on the northern edge of Ames, was the place to stay. Its cozy, knotty pine-paneled rooms featured television and air-conditioning at a time when these amenities were still special. The “No Vacancy” sign was sure to be lit during the times when the Iowa State Highway Commission contract bids were let. Companies from all over the state sent representatives to Ames on those occasions. Casey’s seemed to be the preferred lodging. Its proximity to the popular restaurant/gas station, Topahollow Inn, was a key reason. Located directly across from the motel, the restaurant attracted motel guests and many north-Ames residents with its delicious club steaks priced at $1.85 (and all the steak sauce one could desire).
In 1956, a stretch of Highway 69 north of Top-O-Hollow Road was relocated to eliminate a dangerous and hilly curve that caused several serious accidents. The cut-off portion of the old highway became a city street named Dawes Drive. With the dramatic decrease in traffic, Casey’s converted a number of motel units to rental rooms. Iowa State College graduate students and part-time instructors, especially those in Electrical Engineering (EE), were attracted to the motel. The abundance of affordable food nearby was an obvious draw. The isolation of the place also was considered a plus. Morris Mericle, retired EE faculty member, recalls walking to the vacant lot next to the motel on the night of October 16, 1957 to get a clear view of Sputnik passing overhead.
One of the original business partners who built Casey’s was Martin Faust. After selling out to Mr. Boeke, the Martin’s moved to Colorado for his wife’s health. The business gradually went down hill. A child care facility was the last venture to operate on the premises. The adjacent area was at one time considered for the location of a skating rink, and later, the Moose lodge.
This map of the north portion of Grand Avenue shows the location of Casey Motel and the Topahollow Inn. Both businesses used to be located on Highway 69 north of Ames. Following the straightening of the highway towards the east, this portion of the old highway has been known as Dawes Drive.
In this later view of Casey Motel, a house is visible on the right, or north, side.
2007 view of the former Casey Motel
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