The El Vado Motel has had an eventful 80+ year history so far...Restaurants, shops, the refurbished motel & public gathering/convention spaces are bringing the historic property into the next 80 years...
Rewind. From the Legends of America site: The motel was built by a man named Daniel Murphy, an Irishman who had worked in New York City before making his way to New Mexico. Murphy was working as a manager of the Franciscan Hotel in downtown Albuquerque when word came that Route 66 was to be realigned through Albuquerque. Murphy then left his post at the Franciscan Hotel to open the El Vado in 1937. He chose the motel’s name Vado, which means ‘ford’ in Spanish, for its location near the old ford that crossed the Rio Grande where Bridge Street is today.
The motel consisted of 32 units, some of which were interspersed with covered carports, arranged in two parallel, one-story buildings facing a parking courtyard. When the motel opened, gas pumps were located along Central Avenue in front of the motel office. A flashy neon sign topped by an American Indian wearing a colorful headdress welcomed travelers on Route 66.El Vado Motel Sign, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Murphy constructed the motel in the Spanish Pueblo Revival style. Purposely-designed irregularities give the motel the look of the nearby Pueblos. These include curvilinear and straight parapets, irregular massing, varying buttresses, and exposed wooden roof beams. The interior of the motel office and lobby were ornately decorated in the Pueblo style. When the motel opened in 1937, the local business journal Albuquerque Progress described the units as “swanky tile cabin suites ready for the summer tourist trade.”
The above image is the new & improved El Vado; directly below is how it looked before the site renovation, an image taken in 2011 by Roland Penttila. The transformation is stunning.
Further below is the contemporary lobby, two images of the private guest courtyard area, & an image taken from the Rt 66/Mother Road, facing east toward the motel.