Lost Memphis (and Good Riddance): The Palomino Motel

The one good thing you could say about the old Palomino Motel, just past the city limits on Summer, was that it had a cool-looking neon sign.

But just everything else about this place was bad news. I'm sure at some point in its long history the motel, located where Bartlett Road runs into Summer, must have been an attractive place to stay, for business travelers or families on vacation. But during my lifetime, it mainly had a reputation for trouble — a place to go if you had a fondness for drugs or prostitutes and other unsavory aspects of our city.

The worst event of all came sometime in the 1970s 1987, when a policeman, called to the motel to quell some kind of domestic disturbance, shot and killed a young boy playing with a BB pistol in the motel parking lot. It looked, to him, like a real gun. I believe the place came tumbling down soon after that.

For a few years, though, the great old sign remained standing, and this photo is actually converted from a 35mm Kodachrome slide I took of the place in the late 1970s. There's no trace of the sign — or the motel — now.

Sometimes the places I feature in these "Lost Memphis" blog posts make us feel sad at their passing. As I noted in the headline, though, most people probably think "good riddance!" when they talk about the demise of the Palomino.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

About This Blog

Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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