Route 66 News

Motel Safari in Tucumcari to receive New Mexico Route 66 Association Heritage Award

Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico, later today will receive the 2020 New Mexico Route 66 Association Heritage Award because of its historic-friendly preservation.

The association stated in a news release Wednesday the award comes “in recognition of numerous renovations to the Classic Googie Style Motel, a New Mexico Route 66 landmark.”

The award ceremony will occur at 2 p.m. local time today at the motel at 722 E. Route 66 Blvd., Tucumcari. Association President Melissa Lea Beasley and several members of the board of directors will attend.

Beasley sent over this statement about why the award is being given to owner Larry Smith:

While the COVID-19 pandemic crippled several businesses throughout the country, Larry chose to use his downtime constructively by giving back to Tucumcari and the Route 66 community with the following renovations:
– Replaced roof
– Repainted exterior of the motel, including doors
– Replaced the historic marker in front
– Added a coffee station in the lobby
– Keurig coffee makers in all the rooms
Larry also began guest room refreshing by:
– Installing new furniture in the Rockabilly Suite
– New bedspreads in all rooms
– Adding custom throw pillows, featuring the Safari’s original sign – and handmade by local resident Flora May Cordova of the Route 66 Townhouse Welcome Center & Gift Shop.
Coming in 2021 to Motel Safari will be:
– New guest services room
– Lobby renovations
In addition to Motel Safari, Larry has also contributed to his Route 66 community by serving as:
– President of Tucumcari Lodgers Tax Board
– Member of Tucumcari branding committee
– Sponsor of Wheels of Fire 100-mile bike race
As if that weren’t enough, somehow Larry has time to:
– Be the senior editor of New Mexico Route 66 Magazine, in addition to
– Providing Tucumcari news for the magazine
Thank you, Larry, for all you do!! We hope that Larry’s efforts will inspire other businesses to invest in their Route 66 properties.

The motel was built in 1959. Chester Dohrer, an independent hotelier, designed and built the building.

Larry Smith purchased the motel in 2017 from Richard and Gail Talley, who greatly improved the property during their 10-year tenure.

Last year’s award winners were the Pecos Theatre in Santa Rosa, May Cafe in Albuquerque and Glenn’s Bakery in Gallup. The 2018 awardee was El Vado Motel in Albuquerque.

(Image of Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico, at sunset by Mike Fisher via Flickr)

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