A longstanding landmark along historic Route 1 exists no more


The Alexandria Motel prior to its fall 2022 demolition

The Alexandria Motel at 6411 Richmond Highway was officially demolished in late November to make way for a future stormwater management facility for the Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

During its heyday in the mid-twentieth century, the motel was a 27-room property advertising its private showers, televisions, central heating and cross-ventilation. 

A mid-20th century postcard depicting the motel

Over the years, the property had its share of colorful and criminal incidents. According to the Aug. 14, 1959 edition of The Evening Star, motel owner Larry Smolins was severely beaten and robbed there by three Marines from Quantico. Years later, in the early 2000’s, Connection Newspapers reported on a prostitution sting at the motel to combat a then-persistent problem on the highway.

Despite a few eyebrow-raising headlines, the motel was appreciated by many for its affordability, proximity to a variety of businesses and no-frills simplicity. To at least one Yelp reviewer, the motel was an unforgettable experience — “a chance to see what it was like to be a traveling salesman back in the 1950s, or a young soldier on a few days leave before shipping out to 'Nam.”

The Alexandria Motel prior to demolition

Ultimately, time and Embark Richmond Highway caught up with the property, and it was acquired by the county as part of BRT’s whole parcel acquisition process. Prior to the motel’s demolition, it was used briefly as a training site for emergency responders to practice fire suppression.

Post-demolition photo of the former Alexandria Motel site

According to the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, backfilling of the site was due to start Dec. 5, followed by rough grading and seeding. Construction of the wet pond for stormwater management tentatively will begin in spring 2026, concurrently with the overall BRT construction project.

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