Rooftop letters taken down from Gardenway Motel in Villa Ridge

The large rooftop letters at the closed and increasingly dilapidated Gardenway Motel in Villa Ridge, Missouri, were removed Monday and eventually will be displayed at the forthcoming museum and visitor center at the Red Cedar Inn in nearby Pacific, Missouri.

Longtime Route 66 enthusiast Joe Sonderman posted photos on Facebook of workers removing the large yellow letters from the motel’s roof.

Sonderman said in the post’s comment thread the letters would be displayed at the Red Cedar Inn visitor center and museum in Pacific.

Renovations were scheduled to begin this year at the Red Cedar Inn — a restaurant that closed permanently in 2005 — with plans to reopen it to the public by Route 66’s 100th anniversary in 2026.

The Gardenway Motel closed in 2014 after years of decline. Two years ago, the motel’s front neon sign was taken down by advertising collector Nathan Lippe for safekeeping.

For years, the future of the building looked ominous. What happened Monday indicates the demolition of the motel probably is imminent.

According to the late Skip Curtis in his “The Missouri 66 Tour Book,” the motel was built in 1945. The book also had this information:

Named for the Henry Shaw Gardenway (Old 66), this motel was built at its western terminus. The first units were constructed by Louis Eckelkamp a short distance from his family’s home. The motel grew to 41 rooms, all with tile baths. Wonderful sign!

According to Quinta Scott’s book, “Along Route 66”:

Once 66 was abandoned to the interstate that cut through the hill below, Eckelkamp added the long GARDENWAY sign on the roof to notify travelers on I-44 of accommodations up on the ridge.

Here are older images of the motel in better times:

(Image of the Gardenway Motel in 2009 by Alan Berning via Flickr; postcard image courtesy of

2 thoughts on “Rooftop letters taken down from Gardenway Motel in Villa Ridge

  1. I’m glad to hear that. It was sad to watch them wither away. Any word on what will happen with the sign that was in front of the building? Last time I stayed there, ants were on my toothbrush. I didn’t notice this until they were falling out of my mouth with toothpaste and spit. I couldn’t figure out what the moving dark things were. When I did, I was kind of grossed out. There were a lot of ants where the floor beneath the sink met the wall.

  2. That place hadn’t undergone a remodeling since the Eisenhower administration! That was part of its charm, though it was getting to be shabby and seamy toward the end. When I visited in June 0f 2018, some gutters had already fallen off, exposing a lot of water damage and rot. Plenty of broken glass, too. It’s a shame that we’re about to lose this one.

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