The Journey Motel Court

Jay Farrell and myself headed out one morning for Memphis, TN. Jay had a book signing at Novel for his two Abandoned Tennessee books which are available in most bookstores and here https://www.amazon.com/Abandoned-Tennessee-America-Through-Time/dp/1634990552. We left Nashville early enough to get in some exploring before the signing as well as some afterwards.

We’d heard of the Journey Motel Court, an abandoned hotel in Memphis that would be worth our time checking out especially since it was only 20 mins from Novel the bookstore we needed to be at later that day. The day was a bright one and while there were tales about the perilous nature of the area in which we were traveling we arrived unscathed. Hoping out of our car we broke out our cameras and took in the Journey Motel Court. In the center of the property stands what was a gas station with a car port and a restaurant. On the Northside of the property was the motel office and rooms. To the South was a two story structure that looked as if the bottom was a garage while above was living quarters. This was would be the first building we would explore.

The Garage House

The Garage House was a bit odd to be honest. Originally Jay thought that maybe it had been for a mehcanic but the garage itself lacked a car lift and other featues a mechanics shop would have. I fet that it was likely for the car belonging to the Manager of the Journey. It was an ideal set up really. The manager was likely on salary and was needed on the premisies so why not live next to the Hotel? The garage’s chipped and ragged paint was blue and white and obvioulsy years old. Where a car would be parked a ham sized hole was in the concrete where some plumbing could be spied along with a small drop to the ground below.

Right above our heads was what I assumed to be the living quarters. We could see the open door to the space because the wooden floor above was for the most part gone. The condition of the 2nd floor pretty much ruled out exploring it. So with a bit more of shooting this and that we moved on and shot the outside of the Garage House. It would turn out we were both right, more or less. According to JoshWhitehead’s site http://cremedememph.blogspot.com/2018/01/journey-motel-court.html the building was a service garge and it is likely the mechanic stayed in the apartment above.

Standing in the grass behind the Journey Motel we could see the back of the Journey and deciced to explore the main building next. The grass sourrounding the motel stood at knee level the gound itseld uneven.

Up close cracks in the window panes were obvious and more than a few panes were missing. Further along the back we went. In the middle of the back of the hotel a small building stood with a steeply sloped roof. The door was heavily blockaded with large thick pieces of wood with the excpetion of a 8 inch space above the door.

Using a cell phone flashlight all that could be seen were a few stairs. There was no entering here. Imeediately behind this small entry was the rear wall of the motel (at one point a chimeny stood here). A narrow horizontal window gave us a view of the sparse interior of the Motel. A little further I found a door that was open a few inches so with a qiuck scan of the floor inside, Jay and I stepped into the Journey.

There wasn’t much too see of the back room, it was dark with a greenish cast to the light, here and there were holes in the floor, mainly beneath the windows. The main room was a bit more interesting with entries into side rooms and large windows that let in a good amount of light.

One open closet on the left revealed a floor that was severly damaged and showed a short drop to the ground below, while above were the broken and rotted risers of the stairwell to the 2nd floor where the inkeeper had an apartment.

To the right was a doorway leading to short hallway and restroom. As we explored the main room of the Journey I could hear a fluttering and sure enough a small grey bird was flying arund the room. I think it was a wren. The bird was stuck in the motel and eventually ended up battering itself against window panes of one othe main windows. I photographed the little birds efforts for a bit thinking it would fly out a an empty square. No, it kept batting itself agsinst glass. Finally the little thing sat exhausted sitting on the sill. I reached dwon and cupped the bird in my hand and raised it up to the vacant space in the window and off it went. No wave goodbye, no chirp of thanks, nothing. Ah well.

Beating at a glass prison.

Into the next room. Now let’s get something straight, abandoned places are never really abandoned. People and animals still come on go. They leave evidence of their passing but with little or no context.

In the next room a window was covered with a gausey curtain on the sill a dead wasp sat with it’s head down and wings open, like a crashed fighter plane while in the corner stood a child’s bike. It stood on the floor with broken glass sourounding it while children’s clothes lay in front of it. Why? In dark abandoned places you will find such relics without context and you will always puzzzle over their origins.

Red Group One is down!
Dark rooms, dark findings? Who knows for sure?

With nothing else to explore in the main building Jay and I left to see what we could of the actual motel where the office and actual guest rooms stood. Parked backwards and blocking entrance to the hotel’s breezeway was a bar with out of state tags.

No going in here. Further down was another car this one with Canadian plates and next to it in the grass was a thick grey extension line. Apparently someone was staying here. We could not gain access to the individual rooms, each had a heavy decorative metal door which was locked.

These were not light-weight security doors.

One door had heavy black plastic over it as well as the window. So with not much left to see we were on our way back to the car. That is when we met the guy who was staying there. Out of the room with the black plastic came a guy who stood about 5’9″ or so. Bearded, dressed in camo and sporting a revolver on his hip.

A baseball fan stayed here.
Signs of habitation.

Adam was his name, and yes, he was there to try and get the hotel into shape. He’d heard us and wanted to see who was on the property. This is not as rare an occurance as you might think. In an abandoned hotel in Nashville I’d run into several homeless people and a few law officers as well. Jay and I introduced ourselves as Urbexplorers and published authors who were out looking for material to go into upcoming books.

A limited interior shot of a room. Everything has been cleared out.

Jay and I were in luck, while Adam didn’t come out and admit to beiing a fellow Urbexplorer but we got the feeling he was. We shot the breeze for 15mins or so and Adam gave us a lead to chase. He told us to look for the Snuff Distriict and there we would find an old Snuff factory that was derilect. We should check it out and for us to not be disuaded by the 12 foot fence with razor wire surrounding the place. If we were dilignet and looked around we would likely find a way in, and we did. But that tale is for another day.

Oh, another bit I learned about the Journey Motel Court, it was the subject of a book titled Journey Motel Court: John Hardin Goes to Memphis by Jeff H. Martin, Sr.. The book is about two men saving the life of a Civil Rights Activist. You can learn more about the book by clicking here https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Motel-Court-Memphis-Journals/dp/1517369169/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516135095&sr=1-1

Forgotten Tennessee the Book

That’s right! ForgottenTennessee.com will be out in print courtesy of Font Hill Media’s America Through Time series. A rough release date of late August or September 2019 . Below is the cover which features one of my first explorations the Blackman cemetery.

Inside this book are assorted tales of my explorations around Middle Tennessee and Alabama. I will update this again once I have a firm release date. I will also be updating this with book signings since this book will be available at most bookstores as well as online.

I would like to thank my good friend and fellow photographer for turning me on to Fonthill and for the amazing trips we’ve been on.

4th of July 2018

This is another crossover from http://JWinnettcreative.com

A previous location is revisited. Previously I’d explored this house with my buddy Justin and I’d been wanting to go back. So this Fourth of July fellow photographer Jay Farrell and I did just that. Unlike my previous visit I noticed a rather unwelcoming sign of concrete and earth piled up to make the parking a bit less accessible, rude. But oh well small cars win the day.

The side door from outside, notice the skeleton key lock! Vintage!
From the inside that door isn’t quite as inviting.

I think perhaps the piano was played a little too hard at some point, what’s on the boob tube? A little down the hall I come across an appropriate holiday card, don’t you think?

and a little farther up the hall….

If I thought the side door looked menacing I was left praying no one would come through the front.

I wonder if she got Dorothy?

Feeling a pressure to my bladder I sought out the bathroom, but decided to hold it and well no taking a bath here either.

Let’s head upstairs…

No rail? A building violation?

Well, yes, it was rough looking on the 1st floor. However the 2nd…
wasn’t all Better Homes and Gardens either.
The hall leading to the Widow’s Porch was just as weird as the the front door below.
Unlike the other rooms, this one was full of drawers and boxes strewn about the floor.
Were they summoning a demonic handy-man?
Make ya dizzy!

Once done exploring the 1st and 2nd floors the back porch was the next on the list for exploration.

Yet another Codes violation.

Did I mention the backyard was a damned jungle? I have more photos of this location, but for now I’ve got to sign off.

My Easter, 2017

Before I made ForgottenTennessee.com a stand alone project I would post FT’s content on my JWinnett Creative blog. I hope you enjoy the following crossover.

Today is Easter. Rather than relax at the house I decided to grab my trusty camera and go shoot two locations I’d been meaning to explore.

Shacks revealed

The first location was off of Manson Pike, in Murfreesboro, TN. Up until recently these buildings were hidden behind an old building made of riverock and behind that was a very dense expanse of trees and brush. Both building and small forest were mowed down by developers. Each building contained it’s own treasure from days gone by.

A hidden barn

The Barn, second location was pretty close to the first and honestly I’d driven by it for years and never really noticed it. Why? Because it’s only visiable during the Fall and Winter months. It’s across the street from a small shopping strip with a Starbucks. The frist time I actually spied it I was heading towards town and only glimpsed the top of the barn. I ended up doing a u-turn and drove back. After parking in the Starbucks parking lot I went across the street and did some quick exploring.

Ordinarily I would have posted these as Black & White images but truth be told, I do love the colors in these photos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did shooting them. If you’d like to buy a print of any of these images in color of as a Black & White print write me at jerry.winnett@gmail.com for sizes, paper and prices.

Rusted Beast

There are vehicles out there who have a sense of menace about them, usually they were made between the 40’s & the late 70’s. They lay abandoned and seemingly harmless. But if they could they would snarl and growl, fire and smoke belting from exhaust pipes, just waiting for the chance to devour the asphalt and yourself.

Leaving Veron, Al

As Jay Farrell and myself were wrapping up another Alabama trip, we found ourselves cruising on US Hwy. 17 ambling down a hill and around a long curve. That’s when Jay spotted it, the last house we’d decided to explore for the day. The house was shades of grey, rust and black, honestly it was damn near perfectly camouflaged from us. Parking required us to be on the absolute edge of a crumbling shoulder. Grabbing our cameras we hopped across a narrow embankment and stood for a second admiring a once beautiful and striking abode. But that time must have been at least 100 years ago. The elements and time were doing their level best to consume it all. Entering the door was a questionable act. The roof over hanging the porch had partially collapsed onto the porch’s floor, and the floor was not faring much better. Luckily for Jay and I the porch was only 8 inches or so from the actual ground.

Under the collapsing roof and over the sketchy looking porch we went and found ourselves in a hallway that was nearly black. We were in luck, we still had at least an hour or so of daylight to explore. Without that daylight we’d been in trouble. The house’s floors were nearly rotted out, in one room the floor was caving in while in another it was bowing upwards even while it’s ceiling was canted down.

Jay and I split up in order to shoot whatever struck our eyes. However we remained within shouting distance, this is important when exploring such and I can not stress this enough. I took a second to look back the way we’d come and got a great shot of the hall.

In one room I came across a comfortable looking recliner while in another room a mattress was testament that at some point someone had used this old house as a place to take shelter from the elements. But considering the lack of windows, and the gaps in the ceiling and floors I’m not sure it was much of a shelter.

Still, there was a kitchenette at least, but from what we could see no indoor bathroom.

Eventually Jay and I made it outside the old house and decided to explore the out buildings of which there were three. In one place there was evidence of a fourth building but it was no longer standing.

The house may have started out painted white, but was now mostly grey, and moss green in the back.

Remember that kitchenette I mentioned? Here is the stove!

Two of the remaining out buildings were likely barns, the third however was for a well. I could be wrong, we’d noticed a lot of the houses in this part of Alabama had storm shelters.



Keep in mind we were at least 15 miles from Vernon, AL. We were miles from any store we’d seen. But here in the woods just a stones throw from the house was a grocery cart. I’d love to know if at some point there was a store nearby.

Near another structure we found evidence of transportation and refrigeration.

As Jay and I wrapped up our exploration I took a few last shots of the side of the house but this glassless window is what I decided to post. It’s ominous and creepy and the failing light conveys it all.

I want to thank you for coming along with Jay and myself on this and our other explorations. Please by all means follow ForgottenTennessee.com and leave a comment.