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Restoring Wildwood’s ‘Doo-Wop’ Motels [AUDIO]

Every shore spot has something that makes it special, and restoration efforts are underway to safe Wildwood’s “Doo-Wop” motels.

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Wildwood Footage from the 80's
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The motels, built in the 1950s and early ’60s and named after the popular doo-wop music of the era, were known for their classic retro look, with lots of neon, bright colors, futuristic designs, dramatic angles, and often highlighted with a plastic palm tree or flamingo.

However, as time passed, the buildings became outdated and many were torn down in favor of newer high-rises and condo complexes. It wasn’t until the ’90s that efforts were underway to restore the classic lodgings.

In its May cover story, NJ Monthly Magazine talks about the efforts by the Doo Wop Preservation League.

“There are dozens more, all built in the late 1950s and 1960s,” the article states. “Most of the historic gems –about 60 — are concentrated in the state-designated Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District, a two-mile stretch between Atlantic and Ocean Avenues primarily in the town of Wildwood Crest. The designation gives no legal protection to the buildings, but local zoning laws provide guidelines for renovation, and there are tax incentives for historically preserved properties.”

According to the articles, the district once had almost 100 motels. That ended in recent years as real estate values increased significantly and motels throughout the Wildwoods were razed.

“Those that were spared seem frozen in time, together comprising the largest concentration of mid-century-modern motels in the country,” the article said.

Once renovated, the motels become living museums, said Ken Schlager, editor of NJ Monthly Magazine.

“It’s particularly something to see at night, because they’re all lit up with their neon and it’s incredibly cool, and you can stay in these places, it’s incredibly cool,” Schlager said. “It’s like staying in an architectural museum, in some cases.”

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