Didn’t have time to commune with nature today. As soon as I got off work, I came home, put the dogs out, and threw together a hurried dinner so I could be in front of Ron’s computer by 6 p.m. to watch the Albuquerque City Council meeting, where the fate of the beautiful and historic El Vado Motel (pictured above) was discussed. Visit Ron’s blog for details. I posted the results of the vote (7 to 1 in favor of city landmark status for El Vado) and am working up details as fast as I can.
In the meantime, here are photos of El Vado from my trip out there in October, a week or so before it closed:
Me taking a picture of Jerry Ueckert taking a picture of me during a tour of one of the rooms. (What’s that line from Catcher in the Rye about monkeys watching monkeys?) The owner at the time, the late Sam Kassam, let us in to document the details for posterity.
El Vado was built in the Pueblo Deco architectural style. It’s a stunning building and operated continuously from 1937 until its current owner, developer Richard Gonzales, closed it last November.
The fireplace in the office is just breathtaking. And look at the vigas. And the light. I wish I had the money; I’d buy the place and use that fireplace room as a studio when I wasn’t busy turning over rooms.
The current owner claims the place is a wreck. Do these photos look like images of a wreck to you? Because they certainly don’t look that way to me.
The attached carports are also historically significant. You only find attached carports or garages on motels of a certain vintage — primarily late ’30s and early ’40s — and they’re a dying breed. Classic car owners love this particular amenity, as it helps protect their beautiful babies from the elements.
Thanks to the wisdom of Albuquerque’s city officials and the enthusiasm of Route 66 aficionados from around the world who flooded the city with letters of support for El Vado, it is now under the protection of a city ordinance that makes it illegal to issue a demolition permit for the property until after June 1, when it becomes a city landmark. Landmark status doesn’t guarantee a building protection in perpetuity, but it makes it much harder for someone to come in and tear it down. It certainly carries more legal weight than a listing on the National Register of Historic Places (which El Vado has had for many years, but which is basically just a nice honor that makes it eligible for federal preservation grants but does nothing to protect it from shortsighted developers with bulldozers).