Historic Markers Across Tennessee

First Holiday Inn

Marker ID:  
Location: On Summer Ave east of Mendenhall Rd,  Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 08.925    W 089° 53.767
  35.14875    -89.89611666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WM3K03


The world's first Holiday Inn was opened on this site, August 1, 1952 by Memphis entrepreneur Kemmons Wilson as a result of his unsatisfactory lodging experiences on a vacation the prior summer with his wife Dorothy and their five children. He soon joined with builder Wallace E. Johnson to establish a nationwide chain of inns, each marked by a giant green and yellow neon sign topped by a star. By offering family-oriented, predictable convenience and "inexpensive luxury," this single 120-room motel located on the main route into Memphis from the east would evolve into the world's largest hotel-motel system and make Mr. Wilson's life a true rags-to-riches story. The first Holiday Inn was retired by sale in 1973 and finally demolished in 1994.

Shelby County Historical Commission