Looking Back: Those Old Motels Along Monterey Road

Image: The Whitehouse Inn located at 3030 Monterey Road. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Image: The Whitehouse Inn located at 3030 Monterey Road. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Driving down Monterey Road the other day, I was struck by all of the new construction. Since the early 1960s, the road has been a collection of light industrial businesses along with retail stores, old motels, and an occasional restaurant or house. The old motels have always held the most fascination for me, as they harken back to a day when Monterey Road was a major thoroughfare for travelers.

 

Image: The Palm Tree Inn Motel located at 2724 Monterey Highway. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce. 

Image: The Palm Tree Inn Motel located at 2724 Monterey Highway. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Monterey Road began as a stage coach route in the 1850s, which connected San Jose to Monterey. The towns of Morgan Hill and Gilroy grew up as stage stops along the route. The road includes portions of the historic El Camino Real (Royal Road) which was a 600 mile road that once connected California's twenty-one Spanish missions. In the early 1900s, the road became part of the state highway system and eventually part of US Route 101. By the early 1980s, US 101 was redirected to a new freeway to the east. Monterey Road continues as an arterial road from San Jose (as a continuation of South First Street where it crosses Alma Avenue) to the south county.

 

Image: The California Motel located at 1706 Monterey Highway. In 1949, it was listed as O.C. Owens Auto Court. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Image: The California Motel located at 1706 Monterey Highway. In 1949, it was listed as O.C. Owens Auto Court. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Following World War II, motor courts (motels) with attached cabins began to appear, often with a U-shaped design featuring a central landscaped area or swimming pool. Although many of these motor court style motels are now gone, many still remain in San Jose, with a number of them along Monterey Road.

 

Then and Now

Image: Three images show the 101 Motel as separate cottages, then later as joined cottages, and then finally the joined cottages as they appear today under the name Sands Motel at 1787 Monterey Road. Final photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Image: Old postcards show the 101 Motel as separate cottages, then later as joined cottages, and then finally the joined cottages as they appear today under the name Sands Motel at 1787 Monterey Road. Final photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

 

Image: The Casa Linda Motel located at 1669 Monterey Road. The wagon wheel is gone and part of the sign, but for the most part looks the same as it always has. Second photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Image: The Casa Linda Motel located at 1669 Monterey Road. The wagon wheel is gone and part of the sign, but for the most part looks the same as it always has. Second photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

 

Image: The Travelers Rest Motel is located at 15 Floyd Street (and S. First, which continues as Monterey Road). Another motel where it seems that the sign has changed more than anything else. Second photo ©Ralph M. Pearce. 

Image: The Travelers Rest Motel is located at 15 Floyd Street (and S. First, which continues as Monterey Road). Another motel where it seems that the sign has changed more than anything else. Second photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

 

Other Surviving Motor Courts

Image: The Charles Motel is located at 1036 N. Fourth Street. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Image: The Charles Motel is located at 1036 N. Fourth Street. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

 

Image: The Western Motel is located at 2250 El Camino Real in Santa Clara. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Image: The Western Motel is located at 2250 El Camino Real in Santa Clara. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

 

Image: The White Way Motel is located at 1135 Oakland Road in San Jose. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

Image: The White Way Motel is located at 1135 Oakland Road in San Jose. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.

 

Further Reading in the California Room

 

Comments

Hi All im newbie here. Good art! Thx! Love your stories!

I love finding articles like this. I frequent this road quite often and knowing some of its history is thrilling. Thank you for taking the time to highlight the details of a city with much unexplored history.

You're right, there a lot of unexplored history out there, and it's very rewarding to uncover even bits and pieces of it.

Your labour is appreciated .. I remember them well. A Menlo Park native of ac certain age.. :)

It was a lot of fun to do.

Sir: Thank you for the article. As a native Californian,(Silver Creek HS 1975)....I’ve always been fascinated by the history of our state. Of particular interest is the time of the motor courts, diners, and truck stops. I left California in 1976 and have been back only once before this week. Wow! Quite the change!! I was wondering if you could shed any light on a particular property. On the east side of Monterey Hwy, just south of Bailey, in the middle of the field.....there are some concrete ruins. I think it was an old motorcourt......but the concrete construction leaves me a bit puzzled. This place was already old when I was a kid. It had a faded painted sign that said MOTEL......no longer visible. My uncle and I used to go by there every week as we skirted the ruins on our way to a practice motocross track we had down near the riverbed. Don’t know how the track came to be....who owned it......or how we found out about it. But it was there. Good training spot to prep for the weekend races. (At age 60, I still race. Never stopped. ) Anyway.....the ruins have always interested me. Someone must know something. Just wondering. E.C.Cota Thank you.

Thanks for your interesting comment/inquiry. I took a look for the Motel site on Google Maps, but I'm not seeing it. I've gone through a number of directories to see what I might turn up. The older directories don't provide a reverse listing (by address) for Coyote . Looking through Coyote section (by name) for the 1940s and 1950s, I found only one reference to a "hotel" (no motels listed), that was operated by a Louis Hogan in 1940. No address was provided, and when addresses are provided they're often just p.o. boxes or rural route numbers as "county" properties. The phone books would be another resource for business listings, though that period is all on microfilm (not hardcopy) and would take more time to go through. It might also be interesting to take a look at aerial photos (we have 1948).

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