Patriotic duty



This being July 4th weekend, I thought I’d post a suggestion for positive, patriotic action that you can take on behalf of this country.

It doesn’t involve joining the Marines or attending a support-the-troops rally or even leaving the house. You can do it right now. Right here. In your pajamas. In front of the computer. And it will take about 15 minutes of your time.

There is a very beautiful and historic motel/cafe/gas station complex on Route 66 in Albuquerque that is currently being eyed by a developer for demolition.

This motel, the Horn Oil Co. and Motor Lodge, deserves to be saved for several reasons:

First, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is a designation awarded by the federal government to certain properties deemed historically, culturally, or architecturally significant. I have filled out National Register applications. Trust me when I say it is not easy to earn a listing. It’s a complex, heavily bureaucratic process that involves an elaborate application, lots of supporting materials (letters, photographs and so forth), and extensive review by multiple levels of government. If a property is on the National Register, it’s a pretty safe bet that it deserves to be.


Second, it has attached carports next to the rooms. This type of architecture is pretty rare, and when you find it, you can usually guess the motel’s age to within five years. It was very popular in the late ’30s and early ’40s, but for whatever reason, it fell out of favor after that. It’s pretty cool to find a place that still has its carports intact.



Third, it features an unusual combination of Streamline Moderne and Pueblo Deco styles that you don’t often see in the same complex. The very front of the building has the curved corners, glass blocks, and speed lines that are the hallmarks of Streamline Moderne, and the rest features vigas and adobe — the heavily Southwestern influences of New Mexico.

The building appears to be in excellent condition and currently houses some apartments and a cool little malt shop (which I am told serves organic hamburgers at bargain-basement prices).

Preservationists are fighting for all they’re worth to keep the motel open.

The Albuquerque Journal ran an editorial last week that basically ridiculed local activists’ attempts to protect this national treasure from demolition. The editor claims that there isn’t much support for preservation of this structure.

That simply is not true, and I want to show him that by flooding his inbox with letters that say, in essence, “The Horn deserves better than this. Let it stand.”

If you believe, as I do, that it is unpatriotic to destroy a national treasure that provides a tangible link to American history, please take just a few short moments of your Independence Day weekend to read the backstory on this issue, which Ron posted on his blog, and then write a brief letter to the editor stating your support for the preservation of this property.

When you submit your letter, you’ll be helping to preserve a piece of American history for future generations to enjoy. If you ask me, that’s a pretty great way to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Please take a short break from the barbecues and fireworks to dash off a quick note in support of the Horn this weekend. I’ve worked on enough of these letter-writing campaigns to know that they are well worth the time you spend on them. It really feels good to know you’ve helped preserve a piece of history.