Sunday, July 7, 2013

No-Tell Show 'n Tell

In my younger days, I knew about the Coral Court, but never thought much about it.  By the time I was passing by, its glory days were long gone and it just looked "depressing", to coin a word my mother used to describe such motels.   It's shadowy grounds and oddly-shaped buildings were more of a curiosity: who would stay in such a run-down looking place?   Coral Court by that time (and even  many years prior) was known as a "No-Tell" Motel.  Rates by the hour and discreet garages to guard any recognition of your car from the street by friends and family.  A getaway for adulterous affairs and pre-marital shenanigans.

Coral Court in its finer days

It wasn't until later years with my fascination in Route 66 that I began to appreciate the history of Coral Court and so many other fallen landmarks along The Mother Road.

Photo credit Shellee Graham

Coral Court in its final days
The Coral Court may have earned its reputation, but it didn't deserve it.  Built by John Carr and opening in 1941/42, it was a restful and respectful respite for weary travelers along Route 66.  Many of the features of the motor court that elicited snickers were actually designed with the best of intentions.  The garages were to allow guests to protect their cars and themselves from the weather and the hourly rates were originally offered for long-haul truckers to get a few hours of affordable shuteye while on the road.

Last weekend I came across a small cache of Coral Court memorabilia at a yard sale on Butler Hill road.  I believe it's all authentic as opposed to some of the tourist items you could buy in later years such as the Room 69 key chain.  Aside from the matchbook that sports a 2-digit postal code, and perhaps the Christmas cards, I think most of it dates from the 80's or 90's.

In May of 1995, the Coral Court Motel ended like so many sordid affairs, in shambles.  In its place a nice, but decidedly average subdivision (my apologies to those living there, I know it wasn't your fault!) 

Photo credit Shellee Graham

While out garage saling yesterday, I drove by Coral Court (at least what's left of it) and stopped for some pictures.   The only thing left is the original entrance wall.  And even it's beginning to fall apart.

Where so many travelers and infatuated lovers passed in their cars, now stands a vinyl fence.

As if shedding a tear, stones fall away from its walls.

During demolition, The Museum of Transportation disassembled one unit and partially recreated it at the museum where tourists can once again visit, and perhaps remember.  Unfortunately, the iconic neon sign was destroyed by the original owners, pulled down unceremoniously with a pickup truck and smashed with sledge hammers.

You can read more about the life and death of the Coral Court Motel in the book "Tales from the Coral Court" by Shellee Graham.  Full of facts, tidbits, rumors and hearsay, it's an enjoyable read.


  1. this kind of story breaks my heart, particularly the wanton destruction of the neon sign. reno, being the main route of the lincoln highway on the way to san francisco, has (and had) many hotels of this type that had their heyday back in the 40s-60s. now, the remaining ones are scary monthly rentals full of drug users, drug dealers, hookers, and desperate people just this side of being homeless. it's very sad. fortunately, quite a bit of our signs remain, and now there's an effort to preserve them -- but we lost a lot of them in the meantime, just like Coral Court's.

  2. Thank you for your nice story about the dear departed Coral Court Motel. I did author the book "Tales from the Coral Court: Photos and Stories from a Lost Route 66 Landmark" (2000). I appreciate your mentioning my book, would you please also show a PHOTO CREDIT for my photographs: the 2nd one that you used with all the CCM sign, entrance gate and leaves and the "Check Out Time at the Coral Court". Thank you very much! Shellee Graham

    1. I certainly will, Shellee. Glad you enjoyed the post.


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