1950s motel in Mount Pleasant gets its 2nd dramatic role
Friday, Nov. 08, 2013

1950s motel in Mount Pleasant gets its 2nd dramatic role

Mount Pleasant is a quiet small town, so when anything out of the ordinary happens, the news spreads quickly.

Earlier this fall, when trucks, lights and cameras started to appear in the heart of town, it wasn’t long before folks heard that strange things were afoot near the Circle K gas station.

All the extra activity got the attention of students and staff members at nearby Mount Pleasant Middle School. Students came home with varying reports, from a music video being filmed behind the convenience store to a movie near the Hardee’s restaurant across the street.

Turns out the filming was at the Carolina Country Inn, Mount Pleasant’s only motel, and the crew was from “Homeland,” the award-winning Showtime television series, filmed primarily in and around Charlotte as a stand-in for the Washington, D.C., area.

According to Rohit Patel, owner of the Carolina Country Inn, his motel offers a unique site for filming. It’s a beautifully maintained specimen of motels from the early days of motor travel.

The low red brick building’s white trim sweeps out from a two-story central lobby area with white columns. A circular driveway divides the motel from a pretty green lawn with a gazebo, decorative horse and buggy, and the American flag.

In 2004, the Carolina Country Inn played the part of the “Talladega Motel” in the ESPN production “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story.” Patel explained that producers search for interesting settings, and location manager Karl Golden found his motel for the ESPN movie.

Golden now works for “Homeland,” so when they needed a motel, he remembered Patel and the Carolina Country Inn’s “picturesque charm.”

Patel said filming took two days. The production company rented all 26 of the motel’s rooms, using them mostly to store equipment. It took one day to prepare everything, and the filming was done that night and the following day.

The crew also rented space from nearby businesses to park such equipment as cranes and generators, Patel said. He doesn’t know much about the plot of the episode filmed at his motel, just that it will be a part of the third season of “Homeland.” His biggest challenge during the shoot was to stay hidden, out of the camera’s view, he said.

Patel, his wife, Rita, and their two sons have been at the Carolina Country Inn for 15 years. They’ve worked hard to keep the property as attractive and charming as it was when it opened in 1958, doing most of the work themselves.

Patel said he hopes his motel can be used again for filming. Business is slow in this economy, he said, and the folks from “Homeland” were “real nice people.” And all the activity in town certainly gave folks something to talk about.

Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com.

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