Going through these postcards, it’s amazing how many motels were in downtown Reno. Before the mega hotels like Circus Circus and Silver Legacy started to be built, this is where most visitors spent the night when they came to town. It’s also amazing how many of them have been torn down. This time we’ll look at a couple that are still standing, but like so many of the past installments, most of these have been gone for decades.
Daniel’s Motor Lodge
Daniel’s Motor Lodge was at the southwest corner of 4th and Sierra Streets. There were 62 rooms in this motel, and being on Sierra Street it was really close to the downtown casino core.
The motel was demolished in 2005. I was on a walk in downtown Reno back then and caught these photos of the demolition. At least it survived into the 21st century.
Daniel’s Motor Lodge was located across the street from the Eldorado Hotel-Casino. The Eldorado was on an expansion kick in the 80s and 90s, growing to fill the whole block it sat on and then expanding across the street. You can see the Eldorado’s large parking garage next to Daniel’s in the demolition photos. It was the Eldorado who was responsible for tearing down Daniel’s, but they didn’t do it to expand the casino or the parking garage. Today it’s just used for surface parking.
Tally Ho Motor Lodge
Across the street from Daniel’s was the Tally Ho. This photo is kind of funny; the blue sky was obviously added later in an early form of Photoshopping. I guess they wanted to hide anything that was in the background so as not to distract you from the coziness of their small motel.
The Tally Ho was torn down long before Daniel’s. This motel was squarely in the way of the Eldorado’s expansion plans, and was gone by the 1980s. Now the Eldorado Casino sits here.
Sticking close to the shadow of the Eldorado, we come to the Cabana Motel. This was right behind Daniel’s Motor Lodge, at the corner of 4th and West Streets. The Cabana was very colorful and had two unique signs. They also felt like it was necessary to advertise on the sign that they offered coffee and ice. They didn’t photoshop out the sky on this one; you can see a couple of the other downtown buildings rising up in the background.
Daniel’s Motor Lodge and the Cabana Motel were neighbors, and I believe they were torn down together. I didn’t get photos of this demolition, though. The Cabana was already dirt by the time I photographed Daniel’s. It’s now part of the same parking lot.
Just south of the Cabana on West Street was the Rainbow Motel. It was small and nondescript, squeezed in between other motels along a crowded street. Nothing special, and it was torn down around the same time as Daniel’s and the Cabana. It’s all the same parking lot now.
Reno Royal Motor Lodge
And just next to the Rainbow was the Reno Royal Motor Lodge. This really was motel row along here. All of these motels next door to each other were right across the street from the motels we looked at in a previous installment. The Reno Royal is pretty up front about their selling point here. “1 BLOCK TO CLUBS.” You stayed at these motels because you needed a cheap place to rest your head while you were gambling. It wasn’t fancy, but it was a close walk to where you really wanted to be.
And the special thing about the Reno Royal is that it’s a survivor! So many of these motels have been torn down. Especially in this neighborhood. Between the Eldorado, Jacobs Entertainment, and the City Council, they have been doing their best to rid downtown Reno of these small motels. But the Reno Royal has survived as low income housing. It’s surrounded by parking lots and tall hotels, but it’s hanging on. For how long, who knows.
Park ‘N’ Walk Motel
And the Park ‘N’ Walk Motel was right next to the Reno Royal. Another small motel along West Street with a really striking sign. There’s a few nice little details here, the round globes on the side wall, the diamonds, the colorful doors. They didn’t photoshop this one either; you can see several downtown buildings in the background. And the name on this motel really drives home what I was talking about before, getting a parking spot and a bed close to the casinos so you’re not having to fight downtown traffic.
The Park ‘N’ Walk is still around too! It’s been merged with the Reno Royal, doubling the number of rooms they have to offer. Both of them are next door to each other and share a parking lot, so it only makes sense for them to become a single property. The Eldorado’s parking garage looms large in the background. Is that a harbinger of what’s to come? We’ll have to revisit in 10 years to see.
Town View Motor Lodge
Around the corner from the other motels we find the Town View Motor Lodge. This was on Third Street, facing the railroad tracks. The back wall of the Park ‘N’ Walk can be seen at the end of this parking lot.
This motel survived just a smidge longer than Daniel’s and the Cabana. It was still standing in 2005, but by the end of the decade it was torn down and replaced with a small parking lot. In its last years, its next door neighbor was the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission homeless shelter. The mission building was also torn down, when the mission relocated to East 4th Street. There is a mural on the back of the Park ‘N’ Walk now.
Next door to the Town View was the imaginatively-named Reno Motel, at the northwest corner of Third and Sierra. This also fronted on the railroad tracks. It was an imposing three stories high, and this was only half the motel; there was another wing to the right. It was one of the larger motels downtown.
And you remember we talked earlier about the Eldorado’s expansion? This was also one of the first causalities. In the 1990s the Reno Motel was torn down and the large Eldorado parking garage was built in its place. The exit ramp is right where the motel office was.
We’ve spent all this time so far in the shadow of the Eldorado, but let’s take a walk now. Across the train tracks, across Virginia Street, and down a few blocks to the Oxford Motel. The Oxford Motel was on the west side of Lake Street, in the middle of the block between 1st and 2nd. It was in the shadow of Nevada Bell’s large downtown building. In the background here you can see the First National Bank rising above downtown.
It’s kind of hard to look at the Oxford Motel without noticing the giant ox mural on the front of the building. It overshadows the rest of the building. Which is just as well; there’s not much else to see here besides a sea of yellow tiles.
The Oxford Motel was torn down in the early 2000s. There’s a parking lot here now; it serves the Mynt Dispensary next door. The site also has an extra shadow these days, with the large Cal Neva parking garage rising up on the east side. The First National Bank, now repurposed as City Hall, just barely peeks over the parking garage.
A couple of blocks away on 2nd Street was the Nevada Inn. It was at the corner of 2nd and Rock Street (which is now Ballpark Lane). This motel sat right on the Truckee River, and it is notable for being built on top of the old V&T Railroad tracks. The old stone abutments for the railroad bridge over the river were along the riverbank behind the motel. This motel was probably built in the 1950s, soon after the rails were removed.
In the late 2000s, around the same time the baseball stadium was built across the street, the Nevada Inn was demolished. A Courtyard Marriott was built on the site in 2016.
Silver Top Motel
Right next door to the Nevada Inn was the Silver Top Motel. This motel was much smaller than the Nevada Inn, and was also squeezed in between 2nd Street and the river on the old railroad land. This was torn down at the same time as the Nevada Inn, and the Courtyard was built to replace both motels.