A large “Motel” sign that graced the Fabulous 40 Motel in Adrian, Texas, apparently was stolen after a windstorm blew down its support structure weeks ago.
The owners of the Route 66 motel, which is next to the landmark Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, had let the sign lie on the ground behind the motel until they could repair the platform that supported it. When they began the process to fix it last week, they discovered the sign was gone, according to a post on the motel’s Facebook page.
Ramona Kiewert, who owns the motel along with her husband Roy, said the sign dated to the approximate time the motel opened in 1967 and was worth $45,000 to $50,000. They filed a theft report with the Oldham County Sheriff’s Office.
She said in a text:
The weeds had grown up and how they found it and stole it without us seeing it is unbelievable. We needed that sign. We are on the east bound side and im thinking they took it west. I called Txdot and ive been calling salvage yards.
The sign was about eight feet tall by 23 feet wide. Spiriting it away wouldn’t have been easy, given its size.
Elizabeth Kiewert Griffith, Ramona’s daughter and an employee of the motel, launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new sign because the old one “probably is gone forever.” They estimated it would cost $36,000 for a company in Amarillo to build a new sign.
The Fabulous 40 Motel reopened in October after being shuttered for more than a decade. Kenny and Marjorie Callstrom built and opened the motel in 1967; it was named after the then-new Interstate 40. The motel closed in 2004 after the couple died, although relatives kept the property nominally maintained in the interim.
The Kiewerts also have owned The Bent Door restaurant in Adrian since 2006. It still has not reopened, citing “complicated” restoration issues, although Kiewert said they’re “still working on it.”
UPDATE 8/15/2017: The sign has been recovered, but it’s in pretty rough shape:
(Image of the Fabulous 40 Motel’s sign before its platform collapsed)