Monday, September 05, 2011

Goodbye, Silver Moon Lodge

Two venerable old motels in Albuquerque bit the dust this summer. Both were along Route 66 and had long histories serving weary travelers in the city. The Aztec Motel, which was built in the early 1930’s and located near Nob Hill, was one of the quirkiest (and downright strangest) places I’ve ever visited. Its demise has elicited some response around town, including a memorial art show that wrapped up last week. I’ll do a post on the Aztec soon. But I’m going to start with a motel on the other side of town that went down without much of a whimper, the Silver Moon Lodge.

The Silver Moon Lodge, built in 1953, was at 918 Central Ave. SW., not too far from Old Town. The Silver Moon and the Central Park Deli, which was also located on the premises, closed for good on October 15, 2007 after a 54-year run. Then, in the absence of a development plan, the entire complex sat vacant until July of this year. Originally, the place was known as the Desert Skies Motor Hotel. After that, it became the Desert Inn Motor Hotel. Here’s a cool POSTCARD from that era. By the 1980’s, a third name change found the hotel billed as the Grand Western Motor Inn. Clyde and Goldie Taylor, who ran the Desert Inn in Santa Fe, owned the business around this time. Here’s one POSTCARD from that period. And here’s ANOTHER. I don’t know when the official name switch to the Silver Moon Lodge occurred, but the hotel appears to have sometimes been referred to as the Grand Western Motor Lodge up until it closed.

Peak Hospitality eventually acquired the Silver Moon and, when asked in 2007 if it might be renovated rather than torn down, stated, “We spent $1 million renovating it when we bought it seven years ago. The plumbing and water systems were starting to go. The numbers didn’t work out (on a renovation).”

You know, I understand that economic concerns trump all other considerations when it comes to business. It’s a shame to lose a piece of history, but it’s hard to compete with the Best Western’s and Super 8’s. Of course, once a motel starts to decline, it’s hard to get it back on track. I’ll finish this post with a review from Yelp, posted about nine months before the Silver Moon’s doors were locked:

“You can't expect very much from cheap motels, but this place was pretty bad (and not super inexpensive). Everything in our room seemed like it was broken -- the bathroom lights, locks, closet hanger rod, toilet, and curtain rod. On top of that, our towels and all the chairs in the room had mysterious stains on it. The only reason why this place gets two stars instead of one is because the staff was so nice and responded quickly when we phoned about broken lights and busted locks. They also provide free shuttling to and from the airport.”

If anyone has other recollections of the Silver Moon to share, please send them in. I’d love to hear ‘em.

Information for this post came from Route 66 News, a great site done by a motel enthusiast from the Netherlands, and, of course YELP. The postcards were found on 66 Postcards and Card Cow.


Autumnforest said...

We explored motels just like these at Picacho Peak near Tucson recently. Truly amazing. Those old signs--Oh, I would love to have one of those in the yard at a big farmhouse. I'd also have a bunch of retired carnival signs, a gypsy fortuneteller machine and rusted seats from amusement park rides for sitting in the garden. Sigh....

jmhouse said...

You know, I'm pretty interested in knowing where Picacho Peak is as I might be passing through Tucson with my family around Christmas. I won't have much time, but if I can spare a couple hours I might have a look. I'd love to see some old Tucson motels. Can you give me directions?

Thanks for the comment and I'll keep you posted on any trips to AZ that we might take this fall.

Adsila said...

I love exploring the old motels and other abandoned places. Picacho Peak is between Tucson and Phoenix, near Casa Grande on Interstate 10. Have fun while in AZ.

David Easter said...

Thanks for posting! I now live in an apartment at the new Silver Moon Lodge apartment building. A friend told me the building site was once a motel, so I went looking for history and images of the original Silver Moon Lodge. I found your informative blog with history and photographs.

jmhouse said...

I'm glad you found the post interesting, David Easter! I didn't realize there was now a Silver Moon Lodge apartment building. It's good to know that the Silver Moon Lodge might be gone, but its name lives on. I'll have to pay more attention next time I'm driving down Central Ave.

Thanks for your comment! JM