Route 66 News

VFW wants to restore Skylark Motel tower and neon

The Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 2482 will apply for a grant to restore the tower and its “neon scene” of the former Skylark Motel in west St. Clair, Mo., according to an article by The Missourian.

The VFW post, which uses the motel at 1087 North Service Road West as its headquarters now, is applying for a cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and received a letter of support for the project from the city.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be about $44,000. The grant would fund half of that. […]

If the grant is approved, the restoration project would include tuckpointing of the tower, replacement of all the glass blocks in the tower, restoration of the neon inside the glass portion of the tower, restoration of the neon striping around the roofline and neon installation of the works “Skylark” on the west side of the tower and “VFW” on the east side where the word “motel” formerly was.

You can see what the property looks like now, via Google Street View:

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A 1980 photo of the motel by Quinta Scott from her excellent “Along Route 66” book can be found here.

The VFW has owned the property since 1993. According to the city proclamation, Robert Johnson and his father, Charley, opened the Skylark Motel in 1951:

“The most exceptional aspect of the motel architecture was the art deco style, glass block tower on the front of the main building,” the information states. “This tower was spectacularly illuminated at night with multicolored neon lights located within the tower. The tower’s light would spill onto the white stucco of the main building, creating a beautiful abstract splash of color.”

The motel was perched on the top of a hill so that at night when the tower was lit, the light could be seen for miles around.

Adding to the neon scene was striping around the perimeter of the roofline, the word “motel” on each side of the tower and a big neon sign at the front of the property, which is now gone.

Joe Sonderman at reports the Johnsons once ran Johnson’s Mo-Tel (aka Art’s) in St. Clair before building the Skylark.

(Vintage image of the Skylark Motel via


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