Illinois’ 32nd governor, William Stratton, stayed there. Rumor has it that rock star Eddie Van Halen did too.
Today it’s predominately a place for business personnel to attend conferences for the nearby nuclear plants and for refinery tradesmen. But this place also gets frequented by casino clients, race fans and out-of-town guests of Channahon, Minooka and Joliet residents.
Located along the Route 66 alignment in Channahon, Manor Motel has offered travel-weary motorists a comfortable and affordable place to spend the night since 1954.
It all began in 1946 when Walt Anderson, a masonry contractor, bought land and had a vision to build the motel. A year later there was a unit constructed, followed by several others, until the motel officially opened in 1954. Anderson ran the motel until the late 1970s.
“This place is built like a bomb shelter,” said current owner Prakash Silveri, referring to the motel’s structure.
Silveri is the third owner of the motel. He took over the business from Jeff Kowalski in 1998. His current focus is updating all 77 guest rooms, the motel lobby and lounge area. Fresh paint, furniture, carpet and bedding are complete in 52 rooms.
“I want to bring it up to style and get a modern look,” Silveri said.
Rooms with bigger desks are reserved for corporate personnel or job superintendents who need the extra desk space to complete paperwork and other job-related matters, Silveri said.
There are 30 large, spacious — 20-by-14-foot rooms— with 40 king-size bedrooms. Rooms cost between $50 to $60 a night. Jacuzzi rooms run $89.95 during the week and up to $99.95 a night on the weekends. Free, high-speed Internet is offered to all customers.
Virtual tours and information is provided on the motel’s Web site.
Besides the corporate customers, casino clientele and race fans tend to book a room at the Manor Motel because it is close to where they are going for entertainment, Silveri said.
The motel is close to Channahon State Park and to neighboring Joliet, which hosts several events, including Rialto Square Theatre shows and future Joliet Slammers baseball games.
The Hollywood Casino is near Channahon and Rockdale. Harrah’s Hotel and Casino is in downtown Joliet. Chicagoland Speedway hosts NASCAR events and the Indy Racing League, while Route 66 Raceway, next door features National Hot Rod Association events on its drag strip.
Discounts to larger groups are available. Silveri said he has worked with customers and provided discounts for weddings and family reunions. Reasonable, extended-stay rates also are available.
Manor Motel has a concrete pool with radiant heat and underwater lighting but is closed until further notice.
Although Silveri is focused on pouring money into completing the remodeling of the guest rooms, he would like to reopen the pool in the future. The additional expense currently is too much in this economy.
Back in its heyday, the motel pool was used by the Channahon Park District for swimming lessons. Anderson’s son, Carl, recalls the village approaching his father and requesting to use the pool.
“I remember doing maintenance work around the motel grounds and every hour, 20 to 30 kids would be coming in,” Anderson said. “They were coming in by the busloads. It was something for the kids in the community to do.”
Anderson, who still lives down the street from the motel, said his father also built Manor Inn, a restaurant, in 1953.
“The restaurant had a coffee shop, cocktail lounge, dining area,” Anderson said. “It was a pretty classy diner.”
Anderson said his father had a strict dress code for the restaurant on Saturday nights. After 6 p.m., proper attire was required. Men had to wear suits, or they were not allowed to dine.
“I remember a couple of men coming to the restaurant on a Saturday expecting to be served wearing Bermuda shorts,” Anderson said. “My father was pretty rigid, and he turned them away.”
Today the historic building houses Ivo’s Express Bar & Grill. That is where Silveri refers his hungry clients to dine.
Silveri attempted a continental breakfast bar in the past, but some customers were inconsiderate and didn’t clean up after themselves very well. He said he may explore the idea again once the remodeling is completed.
In 1954, Walt Anderson also built a Sinclair gas station and a liquor store across the street from the motel.
“Pops had to build them,” Anderson said. “People needed it”
Silveri plans to preserve the history of the motel through brochures. After he has several framed, he wants to display them in each motel room.
Manor Motel will be remembered by photos and people recalling stories or their visits. And thanks to Silveri, he, too, is keeping the history of Manor Motel alive.
By Vanessa Holloway