Roadside landmark is gone

VHA PHOTO-LM
VHA PHOTO-LM

The iconic Sands Motel and Restaurant sign located at 805 East Broadway was demolished last Tuesday. The business property recently sold and has been undergoing renovations. Unfortunately, the vintage sign was not saved for repair or restoration due to costs. The Sands Motel sign was one of the first welcoming symbols to Van Horn for weary travelers of the Overland Trail and US 90 long before I-10 was built.

The new Sands sign. VHA PHOTO|LM
The new Sands sign. VHA PHOTO|LM

Some notable scenes of the award-winning 2005 film, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, starring Tommy Lee Jones, January Jones, Melissa Leo and Barry Pepper were filmed at the Sands Restaurant in Van Horn.

1960’s Sands Motel advertising postcard
1960’s Sands Motel advertising postcard

On April 28, 1960, the Advocate published an article detailing the opening of the Sands Motel.

“The new luxurious motel is located on Highway 80 east. The modern motel was built by Ken Holmes and constructed by Hal Stribling. Holmes and Stribling did all the planning and architecture, and construction locally.

Stribling and his wife, Mary Anne, have leased the motel and are serving as the active managers.

Sands Motel presently contains 17 units, with future plans for expansion. Its 6,500 square feet contains eight double rooms, seven single rooms, and two large, three-room family units, in addition to an attractive office.

All rooms are furnished with modern-style, dark walnut furniture. All units have wall-to-wall carpets, separate television sets, and the very newest heating and cooling units. The units are the newest thing on the market; they are all-electric, combination heating and refrigerated cooling, all in one. The exterior is built of an attractive native stone which comes from a quarry in East Culberson County, on the Banky Stocks ranch.”

There was quite a response from locals and on social media once images of the demolition were circulated. Debbie (Conoly) Clark with the previous owners, told the Advocate, “I wish someone had approached us about saving the sign years ago.” She added, “I know Dad is looking down and crying, and Mom probably wouldn’t take the news well, so it’s best left from her.” The previous owners were Jo and the late Don Conoly.