CASA GRANDE — All that remains of the Sunset Court motor lodge on West Gila Bend Highway are a few rock and cement building foundations and flower beds that once dotted the property. Demolition workers razed most of the old court to the ground last week.
What will replace the old motor lodge is not known yet. The current landowner has not discussed any future plans for the property with the city, said Paul Tice, Casa Grande planning and development director.
Although abandoned, Sunset Court was one of the oldest standing motor lodges in the area. It was built in 1929 by Gertrude and Earl William Osborne Sr., who moved to Casa Grande from Michigan. The couple stayed in a tent while Sunset Court was under construction. The finished motor lodge included 10 guest cabins, a pool, a store, a gas station and gardens. Two of the family’s children were born in cabin No. 1.
Sunset Court demolished
The remains of Sunset Court, an old motor court built in the 1930s, was torn down last week. The building was one of the first motor lodges of its kind in Casa Grande.
The motor court once had 10 cabin-style units, a pool, gardens, a gas station and small store. It's famous neon sign now graces the side of the Western Trading Post building on Florence Street.
Sunset Court was known by both travelers and residents as a clean place to stay and good place to pick up a cold drink, according to a 2008 report written by former city Historic Preservation Commissioner Earllynn Brown, whose father, Earl Osborne Jr., lived and worked at the motor lodge as a kid.
The iconic Sunset Court neon sign was added to the motor lodge in the 1940s and shined for decades while the Osborne family ran the business. The family sold the property in 2001. The new owners donated the motor lodge’s neon sign to the city of Casa Grande’s Historic Preservation Commission in 2013 after it blew over in a windstorm.
The commission and Casa Grande Main Street were able to raise the funds to have the sign restored to its original splendor in 2017. The sign now leads visitors, as part of a mural on the side of Western Trading Post at Florence and Third streets, to the Casa Grande Neon Sign Park. The park is dedicated to saving some of the area’s historic neon signs. The park currently features eight vintage neon and lighted signs that have been restored to their original condition.