Saga Motor Hotel | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Saga Motor Hotel

Since 1959, Pasadena’s Saga Motor Hotel has been a familiar landmark on East Colorado Boulevard and a prime place to watch the annual Rose Parade. The fabled Route 66 once ran along this stretch of Colorado, and like many other classic Mid-Century Modern motels, the Saga sprang up along the route in the postwar period to accommodate travelers and tourists bunking in the City of Roses.

Local architect Harold Zook designed the Saga to catch the eye of the passing motorist, with a dramatic neon sign in Moorish-inspired script, intricately decorated concrete block elements, and towering palm trees around the glistening swimming pool.

The building's U-shaped design wraps motel rooms and a prominent office around a parking lot and pool. The prolific Zook designed numerous residential and commercial buildings in Pasadena, some of which still stand along Colorado Boulevard.

By the time the Saga Motor Hotel was completed, Route 66 was on the decline due to the construction of new highways, leading to the demise of many roadside motels and attractions. The Saga survived thanks to its auspicious location across from Pasadena City College, near Caltech, and along the Rose Parade route. Of course, Colorado Boulevard was already a major commercial corridor in its own right and still boasts a healthy array of mid-century motels and businesses.

With its flat roof, Route 66-style elements, and distinctive layout, and the Saga Motor Court is a proud reminder of the golden age of motel design. In 2002, its huge neon sign was designated as a Pasadena Historic Sign.

Photo by Jim Simmons Photography

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