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A postcard depicting how the motel looked decades ago.

Since the 1940s, U.S. Highway 301 has been used by many as a way to travel between Sarasota and Jacksonville, and everything else in between, quickly. Located in Starke, the Underwood Motel was just one of many other motels along the stretch of highway, but one of few still standing.

The old neon sign which stood outside the dilapidated motel became a landmark for those traveling up and down the 301, many stopping to take a picture of it. The sign went missing overnight in 2011, either sold as scrap metal or taken by collectors.

Other than the postcard image, I was not able to find much history on this motel so please, if you have any experience and any stories you would like to share regarding this site, leave a comment below.

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Michael J. Scranton, 2010 – The old neon sign which stood by the highway until it went missing in 2011.

6 Comments

  1. I remember when I lived in Starke I was the band director at Bradford Middle School. I had some of the Underhills in band. That was nearly 30 plus years ago though. Not sure where they are today.

  2. I live in Starke and work in Jacksonville so my route requires me to pass by the old Underwood Motel everyday. Unfortunately, disrepair had taken the final toll on the old landmark to the point where it is currently in the process of being demolished and hauled off even as I type this message. What a shame it is to see what few symbols of OLD 301 reamin from the 40′ and 50’s disappear.

  3. It was owned by Bill and Debbie Buby all my life till a fire spread and damaged most of the structure. Bill and Debbie are my best friend Kelly’s parents I spent alot of time there in the 90s even lived behind the motel in a trailer for a bit

  4. Does anyone know for sure if this has been demolished? Please let me know.

  5. Hi Lindsey, I live just outside of Starke on SR16 and before I retired last year, I passed the Underwood Motel twice daily. The Mom and Pop hotel fell into disrepair and abandonment sometime in the very late 1990’s and continued to deteriorate until it was demolished approximately 3 to 4 years ago. More than likely it was still structurally sound enough that it could have been salvaged as late as 2000 to 2001 however it appeared that the roof started leaking so badly that it finally reached a point where it was falling in on itself. Not sure why Mr. Underwood didn’t repair it and keep it open as it appears that many of the old privately owned motels around Starke still seem to be doing quite well. I wish I had taken the time to take some photos before it was demolished as it seems that so many folks remember it. I keep saying the same thing about the old “Horne’s Restaurant” and gift shop a few miles north. It has been closed for many years and is showing It’s age but still appears to contain some of those old cheap Florida souvenirs from the late 50’s to early 60’s.

  6. I spent many summers at the Motel in the early 60’s. My grandmothers sister owned it. My Grandmother was an Underwood. I have fond memories of the motel and diner’