With each passing year, Colorado seems to be losing more classic signage — including vintage hotel and motel signs that have distinguished roadsides in the state for decades.
The latest to go? Signs for the Chief Motel and the Stardust Lodge in Colorado Springs, whose accompanying businesses, located on South Nevada Avenue, were marked for destruction as part of a redevelopment plan for the area. But developer Walt Harder isn't simply tossing them onto history's scrap heap. Instead, he's selling them on Craigslist, and he's pledged to donate the proceeds — his monetary goal is $10,000 — to Springs Rescue Mission.
The sale's charitable component flows from the repercussions of the Nevada Avenue revitalization.
"I assembled about a three-and-a-half-acre parcel on South Nevada between Navajo and Ramona," Harder notes, "and in those parcels were the old Stardust and Chief motels. The area had been home to a lot of transients — abandoned properties that the homeless had been using as residences — and as we demolished that, we displaced a lot of those people."
This outcome was inevitable, he believes, but it still unsettled him. "As president of the board of Caring & Sharing," a thrift store and resource center in Salida, "I've always had a heart for the poor. It's a mission of mine," he points out. "And because there's been a lot of interest in the signs, it made sense to give the money we could make selling them to the homeless, to help alleviate the problem we were exacerbating."
The $10,000 price tag for the signs, which, by Harder's estimate, date back to the late 1940s or 1950s, was "pulled out of the air," he says. "It just felt like a nice, round number to be able to get for the rescue mission."
No one has pledged the full amount at this writing, but the bids to date have been close enough to the total Harder is seeking that he's hopeful the signs will be purchased before the end of next week — and that's great news from his perspective. To him, the signs conjure up "Americana, Route 66, family vacations in the station wagon. But do I want one in my yard? No."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The sale of the signs inspired us to collect additional images of classic hotel and motel signs from the Denver area — most originally located on Colfax and the majority still on view today. Continue to see twenty memorable examples, followed by additional Chief and Stardust pics — and click to check out the original Craigslist post.
Continue to see ten more photos of vintage Colorado motel or hotel signs, followed by additional images of the Chief and the Stardust.