USM’s Walton Included in CNN Characteristic on Vacation Inn ‘Holidome’
Mon, 11/02/2020 – 13:09 pm | Author: David Tisdale
Looking back at the Holiday Inn where there is now no ‘Holidome,’ a well-known feature offered by the hotel in selected locations across the country since the 1970s, was the focus of a recent section of the Cable News Network (CNN) which includes inputs from Ross Walton, a researcher and digital engineer at The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage (COHCH).
The Holidome, which some say is an old-fashioned amusement park, was a climate-controlled area with everything from swimming pools, ticks and shuffleboards, to traveling merchants and their families. In some cases, the Holidome served as a way to prevent a holiday in Florida from being missed due to inclement weather, or to give a holiday to the northern hemisphere a better way to swim when the temperature drops.
Saving a lot of money, in a way, led to the collapse of the Holidome in the 1990s. See the article here: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/holiday-inn-holidome/index.html.
“It was very impressive in his time, and a good reputation for the Holiday Inn brand,” Walton said.
In 2011, Ross Walton began work on building a Holiday Inn history to explore corporate connections in Mississippi. In keeping with the memories of former companies, franchisees, and founders of the Kemmons Wilson family, Walton established a special contribution to our country in one of the most successful businesses of the 20th century.
In addition, Walton recently received an oral report from Wilson’s business partner, Wallos E. Johnson, of Kosciusko, former President of Holiday Inns, Inc. from 1953 to 1973. These records, edited by the first director of COHCH, Drs. Orley B. Caudill in 1974, currently published and will be added to the Holiday Inn OHP along with another interview conducted by Caudill in 1976 of his Glendora hometown, Mike Sturdivant, Jr. Sturdivant and his partner Earle Jones, interviewed by Walton in 2011, opened their first Holiday Inn at Meridian in 1956, and continued to oversee large quantities of goods nationwide and in the Caribbean. Their company, Mississippi Management, Inc. continues to play a major role in the hotel business.
Since 2015, Walton has continued to serve as an advisor to the Intercontinental Hotels Group and has submitted a number of reports to the company’s Holiday Inn Marketing Team on the brand’s history. She is currently writing a book on Holiday Inns as a picture of business and pop.
Learn more about COHCH at https://www.usm.edu/oral-history-cultural-heritage/index.php.