2016-08-05 / Community

A Window on the Past

Blaine Motor Inn, the Exit 7 Motel, and Black’s Variety
By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


This photo of Main Street was taken in the 1950s and shows signs for both Blaine Motor Inn and the Exit 7 Motel. The historical society would like to find more information about either or both of these businesses. (Courtesy photo) This photo of Main Street was taken in the 1950s and shows signs for both Blaine Motor Inn and the Exit 7 Motel. The historical society would like to find more information about either or both of these businesses. (Courtesy photo) We’ve had some great contacts so far with residents who have information, stories and items to share about western South Portland. One of those people was Louis Brown who came in with a wealth of information on the Thornton Heights area. We are still trying to nail down information on the photograph that we ran in the July 15 paper that showed a house with rooms for rent. Louis said that he remembered the house being the Blaine Motel. I’ve included this week another photograph that now helps us to make sense of this section of Main Street. According to Louis, the house at 762 Main St. had several small apartments or cabins behind it. While we can’t see the cabins in any of our photos, we can see the sign for the Blaine Motor Inn and know that its address was 778 Main St. We had another contact from Marilyn Reilly who let us know that the McGinnis family owned the house that was pictured. Other sources point us toward the McGinnis family possibly operating an Exit 7 Motel at 762 Main St. Luckily, in the original photograph, we can zoom in and see a small “Exit 7 Motel” sign in addition to the Blaine Motor Inn sign.


This photo of a house at 762 Main Street led several people to contact the historical society after it appeared in the “Window on the Past” on July 15. (File photo) This photo of a house at 762 Main Street led several people to contact the historical society after it appeared in the “Window on the Past” on July 15. (File photo) I’m hoping that a member of the McGinnis family, or someone else who knows about these motels, will contact us with information about exactly who was running these business(es), and when they were in operation. Also, one would think something would exist from a motel – a receipt or invoice, an ashtray, a book of matches. If anyone has anything to share, please give the South Portland Historical Society a call at 767-7299, or stop by to visit us at the museum at 55 Bug Light Park – we’re open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In our conversation with Louis Brown, he brought up another business that we would like to know more about. Black’s Variety Store was a popular local store that was located at 761 and 763 Main St. (across the street from the Blaine Motel). We’ve heard many people talk about Black’s Variety over the years, but to date we have still never seen any photograph or item related to that store that was in business for 20 or more years. When we held an Evening Chat oral history program on Thornton Heights, there was unfortunately no one in the room related to the family who ran that small store. If anyone has any photographs or leads for us, please give us a call. Thank you!

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of South Portland Historical Society.

Return to top