Carlyle Motel sign disappears

On a trip Saturday to check the Green Chile Kitchen on Route 66 in Yukon, Okla., we were dismayed to find that the historic Carlyle Motel neon sign on Oklahoma City’s west side had been removed.

The sign had been replaced with a nondescript, orange-and-white lettered backlit sign.

A source I checked with the Oklahoma City media didn’t know when the sign was taken down.

However, a search of Flickr photos indicates the removal happened in recent weeks. Jenny McG, who goes by the account thedefiningmoment, shot a photo of the old sign on Oct. 3. The old sign looked corroded in spots, but the colors and design still made it stand out.

Because of the sign and the 1950s architecture of its buildings, Carlyle Motel had been listed in previous editions of the Route 66 Dining and Lodging Guide. But it no longer made the cut with the most recent book, and isn’t in the soon-to-arrive 2013 edition, either.

In a 2009 story, The Oklahoman published a story about Preservation Oklahoma and its list of threatened historic properties. It mentioned the Carlyle Motel as one of the endangered sites on Route 66, due to it being “threatened by missed opportunity and abandonment.”

Apparently an opportunity was missed for the motel’s owners to preserve the sign.

UPDATE: River Pilot said in an email tonight the sign was removed Friday, Jan. 18. He said the owners had trouble keeping it operating, and it sustained hail damage.

A local sign company now possesses the sign. I’ll try to contact the firm to see what its plans are.

UPDATE 1/20/2013: Steve Lackmayer at The Oklahoman tweeted Sunday afternoon:

The sign is in good hands… fellow history enthusiast Steve Davis saved the sign as it was about to be trashed.

UPDATE 1/25/2013: One of my sources says that City Glass of Oklahoma City now possesses the sign and plans to restore one side and install it in one of the company’s warehouses.

However, a representative from City Glass said Thursday in an email: “At this time, we have no immediate plans to do anything with the sign.”

(Photo of the Carlyle Motel sign in 2007 by H.L.I.T., via Flickr)

11 thoughts on “Carlyle Motel sign disappears

  1. This is a sad turn of events. “The times, they are-a changin'”
    I’ll have to check my archives but, I believe I’ve missed takin’ pics of the old sign. Dang it! Another opportunity lost!!!

  2. I stayed there in July of last year and apparently left with the belief that the neon was not working at all. I’m not really certain that is true and much of it was obviously functional in September of 2010:[email protected]/5003956425/in/photostream/
    The parking lot was being resealed when I was there which gave me some hope for the place but it was otherwise rather disappointing.

    It struck me as odd that the Oklahoman article you linked to mentioned the Carlyle and the Rock Cafe in the same sentence but that’s possibly explained by the fact that it was published in March of 2009 just a bit before the Rock reopened.

  3. Good chance that the owners sold the sign for cash, not fully realizing how this would likely deter an effort to restore the place. It’s days are now numbered. This almost happened to the original Boots Motel sign, except the previous owner got greedy and no one would pay his price.

  4. So sad to hear that yet another symbol along that great road is gone. We need to protect and preserve these iconic and historical pieces of our motoring past. Lets pass the word to all that will listen and act for the future preservation of what is still there on this grand and loved road!!!!!!

    1. Such is speculation..No the owner of the Carlyle did not sell the sign. He thought he was paying too much to have it maintained, not thinking the historic draw of the sign was what brought people in off RT. 66. The sign company gave the sign to me the afternoon of Friday, January 18th, just after taking it down. I happened by at the right moment. My good friend Danny Sullivan at City Glass was gracious enough to send a crew and trailer to load the biggest part of the sign which was 9’tall and 22′ wide. It was removed in six parts. For those of you that would like to see the sign as it now appears. You may venture by 3900 Maney Dr. in OKC. Maney is the first street West of Tulsa and 1/2 block South of Rt. 66. You’ll see the sign in my storage yard on the East side of the street. The sign was operational when dismantled, and half the neon was salvaged. Plans are, to put it on Ebay. Perhaps someone in Norway would like a piece of Rt. 66 Americana, better than the Eastern Indian owners of the Carlyle.

  5. Unfortunately, many of the older motels are being taken over by some East Indians who are giving their fellow countrymen a bad name by letting these old motels “go to pot” by apparently completely ignoring even the least amount of maintenance. The Carlyle Motel seems to be another sad example. When I visited the motel in 2006, it was in bad need of renovation but was minimally acceptable. The main attraction seemed to be the neon sign and now that that has gone, there seems be no future unless another buyer steps in does repairs and renovations to bring the Carlyle Motel up to acceptable standards. The Carlyle is no exception to what is going on .

    1. If you like something or appreciate old stuff hanging around for years…Stop and tell the owners, that you do appreciate it. Otherwise, you’ll see much more Americana dissappear from the scene. If more people had stopped in at the Eastern Indian dive the Carlyle had become, and got the point across that even the sign was historic, they peobably would have kept it. Since the neon kept getting damaged, they let the sign go. And we were fortunate to keep it from the scrapper. They could have just as well, lit it with floodlights. It has since gone on to Columbus, Ohio.

    2. The next place on motel row to disappear, will soon be the Suntide Inn…it is due East of the Carlyle, and for many years has been a pre-release center for the Department of Corrections, as has been the Thunderbird Inn, further down US66. It appears the DOC has closed this center and the old Suntide sits forlorn and lonely for the first time in over 30 years. It had a beautiful elaborate neon sign, with many twinkling lights as well.. I hated to see it come down as it did in the early 70’s.

  6. Remember living there for a month in 1972 when I was five after coming back to Oklahoma. We would eat at the nearby Rustic Inn Restaurant for every meal. Three Dog Night wafted from the jukebox. I didn’t realize that time would give me such a nostalgic memory. Never thought the Rustic Inn Restaurant or the Carlyle Motel would ever go away.

  7. Well, as we all had mentioned previous, the Carlyle it’self is in danger of being turned into another Route 66 used car lot in Oklahoma City. Has been closed since the end of May, and now some cheap hardware store signs have sprouted up advertising the property as for sale. Not much has changed, other than the cedar trees, which once decorated the grounds, have been removed and piled by the once busy swimming pool. Nearby is parked a front end loader. Would likely make a great investment for a speculator or someone who wants to revive the nostalgia of this great motel. Just down the street, the once popular cut rate, NUHOMA has been bulldozed in the past week, only the office stands.

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