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Sierra Vista Motel

9 E Phoenix Ave., Flagstaff, AZ

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The red Coconino sandstone Sierra Vista Motel stands on the pre-1937 alignment of the Mother Road in Flagstaff. It seems to be long term residential apartments now. For years there was a large neon sign on the roof of the two story section. That was common in the part of Flagstaff after Route 66 was moved one block north in 1934.

When the motel was built is a bit vague, many references say it was built in 1937, some say in the 1937 to 1942 period. But the May 13, 1948 edition of the Arizona Daily Sun Newspaper carries an article about Salvador Esparza announcing the opening of the motel the next day, May 14, 1948. That seems to settle when the motel opened, but not necessarily when it was built.

However the last line of that article might hold a clue, or might not. The last sentence talks about the Esparzas being longtime residents of Flagstaff and that they " ... have previously operated the Ezparza apartments "here"". I could well be wrong , but the "here" in that sentence leads me to wonder if they built these buildings as an apartment complex and converted them to a motel in 1948.

To me that makes a certain amount of sense in conjunction with the 1937-42 construction dates. It's easy to imagine the main building being built in 1937 and the one story building being built in 1942. I think that the style of the buildings more or less supports this idea as well as the garages being in a separate building at the back of the property, a concept more in keeping with an apartment building than a 30s-40s motel. In the 1930s a motel or court with garages would more than likely have the guest rooms separated by the garages, each of which would have had direct access to the corresponding guest unit to be as convenient as possible.

x The neon tubing is gone from the sign, but the weathered lettering is still visible. The upright section read "Motel" and the horizontal section read "Sierra Vista" on the top line and "Enclosed Steam Heated Garages" on the bottom line.

Vintage Advertising Highlights

Mid-1950s Postcard

Motel Sierra Vista
Phone 879W
One block south of the Santa Fe Depot
One block south of Highway 66 and 89 in center of city
Every room with steam heat
Private bath(s).
Enclosed steam heated garages
Reasonable rates
Clean, beautiful rooms
Spanish charm
Western hospitality.
Hand painted tile pictures,
Imported hand carved doors and desk.
Very picturesque
Quiet place to rest.

Note: This appears to be an late 40s or early 50s postcard based on the old car illustrated on the front, but it was apparently still being handed out to, and used by guests in the mid 50s as evidenced by the postmark. The front of this postcard shows both the sign shown above and the now missing sign atop the two story building. It also shows a illustration of a desk, fireplace and side chair in a guest room.

Photo(s): 2013



x About Us We started traveling Historic U.S. Route 66 as a destination in 2009. It's like a 2,400 mile long drive back in time from Chicago to Santa Monica! more
xDid You Know: Many parts of the old 4 lane Route 66 were reverted to a 2 lane road after 66 was realigned to the interstate. In many places the abandoned lanes are still there.