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Route 66 News

Albuquerque’s Aztec Motel sign taken down

Aztec Motel sign, Albuquerque

The sign for the Aztec Motel, the only remainder of the historic Route 66 motel in Albuquerque that was torn down in 2011, was taken down Friday, according to several sources that included one eyewitness.

The fate of the sign remains uncertain, although the city’s Route 66 Action Plan mentions including it as part of a pocket park (it’s cited on Page 20). However, one source hears the sign fell into the hands of a private collector.

The motel, originally called Aztec Auto Court, built in 1933, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. In 2003, the motel won a cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to restore its neon sign. The City of Albuquerque designated it as a registered historic place

At the time the motel was demolished in June 2011, co-owner Matthew Terry said the building was so dilapidated no alternative use could be found for it. The other co-owner also told a local TV station the motel would have cost $1 million to restore. The motel was “yellow-tagged” by the city as unfit for habitation in April 2011.

Longtime Aztec Motel residents decorated the building with plastic flowers, paintings and other items during the 1990s, making the building an Albuquerque art landmark. Terry said some items were saved from the motel, but souvenir-hunters stripped much of the building before its demolition.

UPDATE: KOB-TV posted a report about the sign. Apparently the city took it down, and it will be restored and reinstalled at a to-be-determined location. The report includes some footage of the sign being removed.

Key takeaways:

The land’s previous owner says he’s sold the lot and the sign doesn’t work with the new developer’s design, so the sign is being moved to a new location. […]

The City of Albuquerque is in the running for a $1 million grant to renovate more signs along Route 66.

(Hat tip to Nick Gerlich; image of the Aztec Motel sign in 2006 by Tadson Bussey via Flickr)

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2 thoughts on “Albuquerque’s Aztec Motel sign taken down

  1. plasticpumpkin

    I have an art studio above New Grounds, across the street from the site of the motel, and also witnessed the first part of the removal. They had a crane truck and were dissembling and removing pieces. I was saddened to see the last piece of the motel removed–especially as the sign at least lent a certain reminiscent charm to the corner, which had been reduced to a simple dirt lot and bus stop. Thanks for posting this, and for posting the follow-up about the sign being reserved for future public display. I was afraid the city had scrapped it. A number of older motels along Route 66 have been tagged and torn down, so I suspected the Aztec and its sign were just casualties.

  2. Gregory A McKinney

    The person who bought the lot could have kept the sign and rebuilt the motel into a vintage-themed attraction that would have more people coming than any other chain or bland retail store would.

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