Less than three years after it served overnight customers, the historic Sun ‘n Sand Motel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, has declined into an eyesore and a magnet for homeless people, according to a detailed report this week in the print edition of the Guadalupe County Communicator.
Longtime Route 66 travelers likely will recognize the huge, Zia-influenced neon sign for the motel that was restored about 15 years ago with the help of a grant. The motel itself was built during the 1950s and remodeled about 1998, but closed in 2012 or 2013.
I’m a subscriber to the newspaper, and I haven’t yet received this week’s edition. However, publisher M.E. Sprengelmeyer was kind enough to send a copy of the story. An excerpt about the motel’s woeful state:
These days, more than half of the 40 rooms appear to be unsecured, with many doors bashed off their hinges, drapes flapping through broken window panes, and what’s left of a once-proud motor lodge now serving as a sort of unofficial homeless shelter in the shadow of that landmark Sun ‘n Sand sign.
Amid the broken glass, litter and weeds, the old motel is becoming a bigger and bigger headache for police. And the situation is heartbreaking to those who remember the landmark motel in happier times, as one of the most prominent local lodging establishments in an era before the sterile, stucco national chains arrived.
“It’s painful to see a part of your life kind of just disintegrate,” said former motel owner Carmen Trujillo, whose family lived in a corner of the Sun ‘n Sand in the late 1970s while their house across town was being built. “That was part of our life for a while, and it was even part of our kids’ life.”
Here’s a vintage postcard of the Sun ‘n Sand Motel:
And here’s the top half of the front page of the Communicator this week:
According to the Communicator, the motel faced increasingly tough challenges from newer motels closer to Interstate 40. The motel eventually was turned over to a bank.
The motel already needed extensive renovations, previous operator Moe Patel said. But then a historic storm July 3, 2013, that left up to two feet of hail in the city damaged the motel. The newspaper says the building now would need hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs simply to bring it up to code. The motel continues to decline, and city officials increasingly are considering contacting the owner to clean it up, secure it and abate its nuisances.
(Image of the Sun ‘n Sand Motel neon sign by el-toro via Flickr; Vintage image of the Sun ‘n Sand Motel via 66Postcards.com; image of the front page of the Guadalupe County Communicator via the Newseum)