Since O'Hare International Airport began offering commercial passenger flights in 1955, it has been a focus of the local economy. This was especially evident in its first decade, as Des Plaines built itself up to meet the needs of the airport.
During the same period the opening of Kennedy Expressway catalyzed a series of changes that resulted in many Des Plaines’ motel properties being demolished or repurposed.
The Kennedy Expressway, known as Northwest Expressway at the time, opened in 1960 and connected downtown Chicago and O'Hare. By 1962, airlines had abandoned Midway Airport in favor of O'Hare.
The opening of Kennedy Expressway catalyzed a series of changes that resulted in many Des Plaines’ motel properties being demolished or repurposed.
Prior to the construction of the expressway Des Plaines had a few small motels along the highways that crisscrossed through town, the main routes of travel. The largest of these was the 120-room DeVille Motor Hotel, which opened in 1956 at 1275 Lee St., near Algonquin Road.
The deluxe DeVille, designed by local architect Kenneth Holmes, boasted modern amenities including air conditioning, free television in every room, a barber shop, cocktail lounge and restaurant.
The Des Plaines Motor Inn opened next door at 1301 Lee St. in 1960 with 100 air-conditioned rooms, a pool, meeting rooms and a restaurant and lounge.
The Des Plaines Motor Inn would prove short-lived; in 1979, , a five-story nursing and rehabilitation center, was built on virtually the same footprint of the former motel building.
The DeVille was remodeled in 1975, outfitted with a new restaurant, which eventually became , 1275 Lee St., and renamed Chelsea Motor Inn. In 1993 it was renamed La Casa Motel, and was demolished in the mid-1990’s.
The opened just north of the site of the DeVille in 2001, with 50 rooms. Several hotel developments have been proposed for the DeVille site, but nothing has materialized.
Eagle-eyed readers examining the images might spot signs for a Marathon gas station and a National supermarket in the background.