Welcome Back, Motel St. Louis!
The Motel St. Louis—or at least its sign—is back home. Fifty years after being removed from its location on Route 66 near Lambert Airport, the motel sign has returned to St. Louis for the exhibit Route 66: Main Street Through St. Louis, open through July 16, 2017.
The story of the sign began in the 1940s when it was parked outside the newly built Motel St. Louis. The motel was located at 5028 N. Lindbergh Boulevard, one of the many streets that made up Route 66 through St. Louis. The motel boasted 44 “ultra-modern units” and even provided station-wagon service to the airport. But the airport would also be its downfall. The Motel St. Louis closed in the 1960s to make room for runway expansion. The sign, however, survived.
The Motel St. Louis sign was carted away to St. James, and a resourceful hotel owner changed the neon to read Motel 300 Ft. It remained in that condition for 30 years before the New Hope Church in St. James covered it and used it for the church’s signage. In 2015 the Route 66 Association of Missouri recovered the sign. That organization and the Missouri History Museum have worked together to refurbish it, and plans are being made to restore its neon.
—Sharon Smith, Curator of Civic and Personal Identity