Blue Swallow Motel
Tucumcari, New Mexico
The Blue Swallow Motel is located at 815 East Route 66 Blvd. in
Tucumcari, NM. Visitors can still spend the night at the motel.
Call 575-461-9849 for rates or visit the motel's website.
Carpenter W.A. Huggins began
construction on the Blue Swallow Motel prior to the outbreak of
World War II, and Ted Jones, a prominent eastern New Mexico
rancher, opened the motel in 1942. Facing Route 66, the Blue
Swallow offers access to motorists from both the highway and a
side street. The motel has an L-shaped plan and consists of 14
units with a discreet office and manager’s residence. Garage
units, some with wood overhead doors, are located between the
sleeping units. With its pink stucco walls decorated with shell
designs and a stepped parapet, the façade reflects a modest use
of the Southwest Vernacular style of architecture.
Mr. Jones and his wife died in the 1950s, Lillian Redman and her
husband bought the motel and successfully operated it. From the
start, the Redmans put their customers first. When guests didn’t
have enough money for a room, the Redmans accepted personal
belongings in trade or provided the room for free. Ms. Redman
and the Blue Swallow became icons of Route 66 folklore. She
described the special and close connection she had with the
Route 66 motorists who came in each night this way. “I end up
traveling the highway in my heart with whoever stops here for
At the end of the 1960s, Interstate 40, a
better and faster highway, took the place of the old Route 66.
The development of this new highway drastically changed the
traffic circulation of Route 66 affecting many of the businesses
along the way, including the Blue Swallow Motel. Ms.
Redman said of the effect of Interstate 40, which bypassed
Tucumcari, “When Route 66 was closed to the majority of traffic
and the other highway came in, I felt just like I had lost an
old friend. But some of us stuck it out and are still here
on Route 66.”
After owning the Blue Swallow for almost 50
years, Ms. Redman sold the motel in the late 1990s. Listed in
the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, the motel
continues to operate as a popular overnight destination. The
motel received a Cost-Share Grant from the National Park Service
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program in 2007 for restoration
of the neon sign, neon swallows, and office windows.