La Siesta Motel was one of the many motels that lined route 60 in Wickenburg between Phoenix and California — the old California Highway. Located just east of the Hassayampa River, its outstanding feature was a huge rock formation. Water flowed from this formation in a manmade waterfall and the motel office was built right into the rock.
This postcard image, from the late 1950s or early 1960s, shows a classic roadside motel like so many of the driving vacation era.
La Siesta Motel, circa 1960.
When I first came to Wickenburg in the late 1990s, La Siesta Motel on East Wickenburg Way was already a down-and-out property with a big For Sale sign. I always thought it would make a good apartment conversion project — so many of Wickenburg’s old motels have been converted to apartments over the past 20 or 30 years. After all, this was a piece of Wickenburg history and should be preserved.
But the property’s buyers had different ideas. This photo, which I took in January 2001 shows the rubble that was left after the buildings were demolished. This is almost the same exact view as the one in the postcard; in fact, I believe the three palm trees in a row are the same three that were in the postcard.
La Siesta Motel after demolition, January 2001.
The lot lay vacant for a while. Then construction began on an L-shaped strip mall. Although the building is quite attactive, I think the builders made a mistake in having the storefronts face the parking lot instead of the road; it’s hard for businesses in there to get noticed by people driving by. The location is now home to Movie Gallery and a handful of other businesses. A second building was added to the complex in mid 2005 and is occupied by a chain restaurant.
La Siesta Shopping Center, January 31, 2006.
One of the nice things the new owners did was to keep the unique neon sign that was on the propertly when they bought it. Not only did they keep it, but they fixed it back up to its original splendor and added signage beneath it for shopping center tenants. I think it’s nice that one of the first things people see in Wickenburg as they drive up from Phoenix is this great sign and an American flag flying nearby.
The unique neon sign for La Siesta Shopping Center, January 31, 2006.