Filed Under Tourism

777 Motel

Built in 1964 when Virginia Street was still the north-south highway through the city.

South Virginia Street was an increasingly busy thoroughfare in mid-century Reno, with many motels cropping up to serve the traveling public. The 777 Motel was constructed at 777 S. Virginia Street in 1964, one year before the street was widened to accommodate increasing amounts of traffic on what was then the north-south highway through town.

The courtyard-shaped motel has a utilitarian design, highlighted by its bright and whimsical sign evoking a lucky pull at the slot machines, three sevens in a row.

The site had housed a used car lot since the early 1950s. In the early sixties, the lot was called 777 Used Cars, and that is apparently when a sign was painted to advertise the business on the two-story building just to the north. When the motel was constructed in 1965, the painted sign was partially covered by the new building but some of the letters and an arrow pointing down remain visible.

The completion of Reno’s north-south freeway, Interstate 580, from Interstate 80 southward to the vicinity of McCarran Boulevard in 1981 prompted many drivers to bypass South Virginia Street entirely. That, in combination with the opening of large numbers of inexpensive hotel rooms at the downtown hotel-casinos, led to the gradual conversion of many motels like the 777 Motel into longer term housing for area residents.

Images

Early postcard
Early postcard An early postcard shows the motel in its mid-century heyday, when tourists stayed in motels all along South Virginia Street, which then served as the main north-south highway through town. Source: Steve Ellison
South Virginia Street, 1965
South Virginia Street, 1965 The new 777 Motel can be seen on the far left in this photo of a street-widening project underway in 1965. The 777 Motel had just been built the previous year. The high rise in the background is the First National Bank, which was completed in 1963 and today serves as Reno City Hall. Source: Nevada Department of Transportation Date: 1965
Mid-century signage
Mid-century signage The motel's whimsical sign evokes a lucky pull at the slot machine, lining up three sevens for the jackpot. Creator: Alicia Barber
Ghost Sign
Ghost Sign The mystery of the partially-covered "777" on the south wall of the adjacent building is explained by the 777 Used Car lot that occupied the site prior to the construction of the 777 Motel in 1964. Creator: Alicia Barber

Location

777 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “777 Motel,” Reno Historical, accessed April 12, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/167.