Jolly Roger Motel—Wildwood Crest, New Jersey

At Wildwood, New Jersey, the start of summer is signaled with the raising of the Jolly Roger—not the ol’ skull and crossbones, but the fiberglass pirate who stands watch atop the Jolly Roger Motel, a Wildwood landmark since 1959. When area residents see the red-vested, black- booted pirate in the tricorne hat waving his sword above the motel’s roofline, they know the Jersey Shore will soon be inundated with beach-bound vacationers.

The U-shaped Jolly Roger Motel was designed by Will Morey—the man whose penchant for publicity was responsible for making Wildwood, New Jersey, a vacation destination in the Garden State—and Palmer Way, the father of the inn’s current co-owner, John Way.

The Jolly Roger Motel is awash in neon signs. Pastel blue and yellow hues dominate its decor; sharp lines define its slanted roofline and large, glass-walled lobby. West Coast architects might call the Jolly Roger’s construction style Googie, but Wildwood residents have another name for such retro 1950s designs: Doo Wop. The term was coined during the 1990s to describe a building style that incorporates space-age elements—large sweeping angles, starbursts, and boomerang shapes—and the official tree of Wildwood, the plastic palm…