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Route 66 Mobile Tour

Chelsea Motel

Northeast corner of First Street & State Highway 66, Chelsea

Ideally located for serving Route 66 travelers, the Chelsea Motel, built about 1936, is a simple rectangular building about 75 feet long on its west elevation and 16 feet deep on its south elevation, divided into six motel units. The motel faces west in a triangular piece of land formed by the intersection of First Street and Route 66. The motel is of wood construction (in fact, using patterned lumber ordinarily used on interior walls) on the west elevation, with stucco applied to the other elevations. The most impressive feature of the motel was the spectacular neon sign installed about 1947. The Chelsea Motel is representative of the multitude of now anonymous mom and pop motels that proliferated Route 66 into the 1950s. But, a combination of forces soon took their toll. Their numbers tripled between about 1946 and 1953, and there was ever-increasing pressure to provide the latest amenities, including air conditioning and telephones. The Chelsea Motel responded to these demands. But it was difficult to compete with the rising tide of motel chains and the tremendous increases in traffic which called for improvements to Route 66 and, finally, its replacement. In the 1950s, the Turner Turnpike and the Will Rogers Turnpike, eventually Interstate-44, pulled the traffic and the business from the historic highway and the small towns. The Chelsea Motel closed in 1976.