Somewhere near the Florida/Georgia border is a place that has sat, abandoned and remarkably untouched, for decades. Little information is readily available about the Riverside Motel and St Mary’s Liquors, which also housed a Souvenir Shop. This place has managed to stay mostly safe from the hands of vandals, with only a few signs of any serious or obviously intentional damage; everything else was the product of natural decay. There were several things inside, such as the furniture, decor, and other miscellaneous items that hinted at it being vacated sometime in the 80′s, however, all of the locals could only give the time frame as “a long time – decades.”
The two buildings that make up the motel are in an “L” shape, with the office sitting in the middle of the land. The building that is closest to the road shows the most damage, with most of the flooring in at least the first half of the rooms being broken up and sunken into the ground, leaving all of the furniture also half sunken into the Earth below. In both buildings, the beds, chairs, tables, vanities, and even the Bibles are still inside. One room had evidence of a fire, but strangely only the bed itself seems to have gone up and was then put out before the fire could spread any farther. In the middle of the bed, a Bible sits on a pillow, unburned.
Heavy with cobwebs, dust, and insect nests, one of the rooms in the second building even had a full wardrobe still hanging in the closet, with clothing items also strewn about the dresser and the bed. Other evidence of past lives littered other rooms, such as a coffee cup on the footboard of one bed and books, mostly with religious themes, in others. Magazines and newspapers were either completely faded or too water damaged and moldy to make out a date on them.
Next door to the Riverside Motel is the old St Mary’s Liquors, which is really two businesses in one. Divided in the middle, one side was the bar and liquor store where they would also play movies, and the other side was a souvenir shop. The building is actually much larger on the inside than it appears to be from the outside, so one can only imagine that they had a lot of stuff to see in there. Now, all that is left is the large, old sign that used to hang on the wall in the liquor store and an ancient typewriter in the souvenir shop side. A few random items, such as a very old tape recorder and a broom propped up against the counter still sit there, waiting for someone who will never come back.
Being so close to the border, this place must have been extremely popular on the weekends. The sale of alcohol is largely prohibited in Georgia on Sundays, barring special events or the few places where local government has overruled. People probably crossed the state line into Florida and hung out here all through the weekends so they could drink and socialize, having the convenience of the motel next door to crash at if they were too wasted to drive home.
Now, the particular stretch of highway that Riverside and St Mary’s sits on is very quiet, only used regularly by the locals. Once I-95 was built, many travelers stopped using the smaller highways and opted for the larger, faster, and more convenient interstates, which is what likely lead to the demise of this hidden gem. Now it just sits, as it has for decades, quietly. Perhaps the same location that once pushed it to become abandoned has also saved it from the demolition equipment by keeping it safely off of the beaten path.
Photographer: Emily Dietrich
Year Taken: 2011