Monday, May 12, 2008



I couldn't stand to wait until Tuesday to post a little more, although after spending a little time on research, it's already Tuesday!

This is the Sunrise Motel sign on Route 66 off of I-44 near Sullivan, Missouri. Route 66 is the frontage road here, right by the "big" highway, and I spotted the sign on the way down. (It's near mile marker 223, by the way.) I told Ken that I'd like to stop on the way back and get a picture of it, because it looks to be in pretty bad shape, and the motel itself has not survived. We aren't planning to take our big Route 66 trip until 2010, and some of these things might not survive until then.

I couldn't read this sign until we got much closer, and finally was able to make out the word "sunrise," and then I noticed the Triple A oval in the middle. There's also a No Vacancy bit, right under the T.

I tried to find out a little bit about the Sunrise Motel, but I could find next to nothing. I was able to find this postcard image.

What a cool and funky motel! It looks like the office had a bit of a Southwest, adobe-like look to it, although it's hard to tell from old postcards like this. They included the Triple A logo on the card in the form of the logo itself, and then in a sign rising behind the motel office. The sign above isn't portrayed in this postcard--it looks more like an arch sign in the drawing.

It's things like this that make me sad to see these buildings not being preserved. I know it's nothing but an eyesore to some people, but I find that these ranch motels from the middle part of the 20th century have a charm to them that you don't see in most hotels today. Maybe it's because I remember staying in a few in Florida when I was little. You opened the cantilevered windows to get a breeze, and the really nice motels had an outdoor pool where you could go cool off. Anyhoo, back to the Sunrise...I don't know if there are any actual pictures of this motel left. I don't recall reading about it in any of my books, and haven't been able to find one online. Are there no photos of the Sunrise out there? What a shame. (I'll keep looking, and if anyone knows anything about this vanished motel, please let me know.)

I wanted to explain a bit about Googie. Wiki defines "Googie" this way:

Googie is a subdivision of futurist architecture, influenced by car culture and the Space Age and Atomic Age, originating from Southern California in the late 1940s and continuing approximately into the mid-1960s. The types of buildings that were most frequently designed in a Googie style were motels, coffee houses and bowling alleys. Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel, and neon. Googie was also characterized by space-age designs that depict motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers, atoms, and parabolas, and free-form designs such as "soft" parallelograms and the ubiquitous artist's-palette motif. These stylistic conventions reflected American society's emphasis on futuristic designs and fascination with Space Age themes. As with the art deco style of the 1930s, Googie became undervalued as time passed, and many buildings built in this style have been destroyed. [Read the full article on Googie here.]

While the Sunrise Motel sign isn't a stellar example of Googie, it does include rectangles and ovals, and another characteristic of Googie is geometric shapes. It's fun to try to find signs that include rectangles, triangles, AND circles, ovals, or balls. (YES, I said fun. Each to their own, and I think Googie is fun!) Neon isn't required, but is a definite plus. Note that the article quoted in Wiki compares the destruction of Googie buildings and signage to the destruction of Art Deco buildings. Art Deco is highly prized now, and I firmly believe that the same case can be made for Googie. These are unique architectural designs, both in design, time, and place.



eml625 said...

I LOVE this stuff !! Being from the East coast, I never seen any of this before.
Thanks for sharing !


krmprm said...

Yes, I too have fond memories of a Florida trip with my parents and we
stayed in the type of motel you described.  I hope it still exists but I doubt
that it does.  Very interesting bit of American culture.  Have a great day!   Pat

queeniemart said...

I love reading about your travels and interests. In mid Ohio here we have small, mom and pop type hotels around that look a lot like this Route 66 hotel. I like the pic of the sign.

frankandmary said...

It is a small point of agitation with me, more people seem to pass stuff like this, roll their eyes & silently wonder why a new mall or condo complex has not relaced the "old eye sore."  I tend to roll my eyes at the new malls & condos that do replace them instead.

rdautumnsage said...

I love places like this, it's a reminder of a more pleasant and innocent life. The condo's and malls to me are the eyesore. I tend to search out the old style diners when it comes to eating out. I enjoy the mom and pop establishments, the hospitality and the home cooking. In so many ways it's a step back in time. Places like these were kind to kids like me on their own at a young age. They made you feel safe and for a few minutes in a day safe...(Hugs) Indigo

jjdolfin9 said...

How nice that you took the time to take the photo and also the research was great.  You will surely enjoy the trip in 2010.  Other's would just pass this by and never give it a thought.  Good for you.

madcobug said...

I like the old motels. Not many around anymore. There are a couple of old ones not very far from us. Come to think of it they may not be there anymore since the interstate and malls are built close by with new motels built on the interstate which runs parallel with that old road. Helen