JOPLIN, Mo. —
Wanted: Good home for a classic sign.
The Capri Motel at 3401 S. Hearnes Blvd., a south Joplin fixture since 1962, has been sold, according to an owner, Terri Selsor, of Joplin.
“This will be our customers’ last day,” she said Wednesday. “We’ve heard that it is going to be bulldozed.”
Selsor, who has owned the motel with her husband, John, for six years, said ownership of the property will transfer on Oct. 28.
Construction contractor Charlie Kuehn, with Four State Homes, confirmed this week that the motel had been purchased. He said there are no immediate plans for the property, but that it eventually could become a retail area.
Kuehn said rumors suggesting the site will become a rehabilitation center were inaccurate.
The Capri was one of several motels constructed in Joplin in the late 1950s and early 1960s to serve motorists traveling on Interstate 44. The 45-room motel was built in 1962, when South Main Street was converted into a four-lane, divided highway from Interstate 44 to 32nd Street. The roadway in 1965 was named after Warren Hearnes, a Missouri Democrat who was elected governor in 1964.
The Capri would be the only motel constructed on Hearnes Boulevard. The others would be built on South Range Line Road.
Terri Selsor said most rooms at the motel, of late, have been rented on a weekly or monthly basis to people who were displaced by the 2011 tornado.
What will happen to the motel’s iconic sign is something that concerns Selsor.
“We want to donate it to someone who will preserve it,” she said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind sign. It must be preserved.”
The 30-foot-tall sign with its neon lighting is a favorite of photographers looking to capture images related to roadside culture in the 1960s.
IMAGES OF THE CAPRI MOTEL are featured at roadsidearchitecture.com.