Filed Under Tourism

Sutro Motel

A unique 1951 motel split into two halves that border Sutro Street and East 4th Street (former U.S. 40).

The Sutro Motel, at 1200 East 4th Street, is one of the most picturesque motels along old U.S. 40. It is composed of two Spanish Mission-style structures straddling the east and west sides of Sutro Street, prompting many to guess that they were once connected (they were not). The motel is configured in an L-shaped ''motor court" design, which allows vehicles to park directly in front of each room.

Rather than evolving from an earlier auto camp like many others in the area, the 24-unit Sutro Motel was constructed in 1951 as a modern motel. From the beginning, it boasted carpeted and air-conditioned rooms, with TVs, radios, free ice cubes, and morning coffee.

The motel’s owner was sign company owner Sidney Leggett (see separate entry for his namesake building), who had bought the land from Julius Redelius several years earlier. It was Redelius who first developed the property that later became the Farris Motel, just down the road. Leggett was also already involved in housing people along U.S. 40, having owned the Western Trailer Village at 1905 E. 4th Street since 1949. Later in the 1950s he built the Ho Hum Motel and Ox Bow Motor Lodge, both on South Virginia Street.

The Sutro Motel blended pride and modesty with its unique tagline, “Probably the Best.” A line of trees on either side of Sutro originally gave the property more of a protected, motor lodge appearance. The motel is currently used for weekly and monthly rentals.

Images

Sutro Motel, 1950s
Sutro Motel, 1950s The unique layout of the motel, straddling two sides of the street, required postcards to depict the motel's two sections in different images. Source: Philip Galbraith Date: 1950s
The neighborhood in 1955
The neighborhood in 1955 The 1955 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the two-part Sutro Motel, surrounded by small single-family houses, which are marked D for "dwelling." Source: U.S. Library of Congress Creator: Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Date: 1955
Continued character
Continued character The corner of E. 4th Street and Sutro remains busy, and the motel retains its charming red tile roofs and Spanish influences, even as it caters more to short- and long-term residents than tourists. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014

Location

1200 East 4th Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Sutro Motel,” Reno Historical, accessed May 24, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/96.