Looking back: Expansion of Airway Motor Lodge

Published 10:06 am Friday, February 27, 2015

FEBRUARY 27, 1965

S. W. Rawls Jr., President of Airway Motor Lodge, Inc., has announced the start of construction on a 20-unit addition to the motel.

Located on busy U. S. Route 58, just east of Franklin in Isle of Wight County, the motel complex includes the Airway Restaurant which will be enlarged. Both projects will be completed in May.

“Occupancy has been good,” Rawls said. “And, with all the new construction that is taking place in the Franklin area, there will be a need for additional rooms.

“Especially, with the $35 million expansion that is coming about at Camp, people will be looking for rooms,” he added.

Too, on an on-going basis, an enormous amount of traffic, including trucks, rolls and roars through Franklin’s business and residential streets. Franklin is at the crossroads of U. S. Routes 58 (east-west) and 258 (north-south).

Being next to Franklin Municipal Airport is also beneficial for the motel and restaurant. Union Bag-Camp’s Aviation Division is headquartered at the airport. Franklin Equipment Co. has aircraft based there. Just as people traveling over the highways are looking for rooms, visitors coming in by air to visit with the companies are also looking for food and accommodations.

Both companies have pilots and aircraft mechanics working out of the airport. They use local vendors for most of their needs.

“When the current expansion is completed, our investment at this property will reach beyond a half million dollars, Rawls said.

Serving with Rawls is Vice President Robert C. Ray of Franklin and Site Manager John T. Claud of Drewryville. Stock in the corporation is held by about 50 Franklin and Southampton individuals.




Upon recommendation by City Manager Harold Atkinson, the City Council approved permanent closure of a portion of East First Avenue. The portion of the street being closed is that which extends through property owned by Franklin Equipment Company. After a distance of about 250 feet, the street becomes a dead-end. Franklin Equipment Company recently purchased several old sub-standard houses that front on both sides of that portion of First Avenue. Those houses will be torn down.

Roger Drake, President of Franklin Equipment Company said he wants to acquire the closed street property in order to expand his business. Due to the phenomenal success of the “Franklin Logger,” additional manufacturing space is needed.

Following redevelopment of the property, East First Avenue will end at Mechanic Street.

Use of the property, after its acquisition by Franklin Equipment Company, will be in accordance with City of Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority plans to rehabilitate that portion of downtown Franklin.




James Wagenbach, Franklin contractor, was named Franklin Fire Chief by the City Council Monday night. He will assume the position on April 1. A little bit later, when C.G. Lane retires, Wagenbach will also take over responsibility for the Building Inspection Department.

As Fire Chief, Wagenbach will be designated Deputy Coordinator of Civil Defense for Franklin.



Franklin Contractor James M. Wagenbach was named “Man of the Year” Thursday night at the Franklin Jaycee annual meeting. He received the organization’s Distinguished Service Award.

Robert L. Lambert, last year’s recipient, made the presentation. Wagenbach, a past president of the Franklin Jaycees, was cited for his involvement in community affairs. He is a member of the Board of Ushers of High Street Methodist Church and Chairman of the Central District of the Boy Scouts of America. And, he is Commander of Post 73 of the American Legion in Franklin.



Earlier this month, the Southampton County Historical Society held its first official and organized meeting. An initial meeting was held back in November to determine support for a historical society. Forty-nine people attended that meeting.

During the most recent meeting, with 63 people listed as charter members, the assembled group approved a constitution and by-laws for the Society. Officers were elected: Charles Fox Urquhart Jr., president; Dr. E.M. Babb, first vice president; Hatcher Story, second vice president; John C. Parker, secretary; and Herbert G. Cobb Jr., treasurer.

The initial program of work includes establishment of a registry of pre-1850 buildings in Southampton County. Acquisition and preservation of manuscripts, papers, diaries, letters, ledgers, minute books, photographs, and other historical material, including antiques and artifacts, will be a major part of the Society’s mission. All of the foregoing will assist in chronicling and preserving the County’s rich history.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net