Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. vaguely remembers the first years of the Lariat Motel, which once stood where today’s Maverick serves customers.
It was altogether fitting that the city’s top elected official turned on the switch Thursday to light the neon signs of the motel to signal the beginning of Fallon’s events to honor Nevada’s year-long celebration of its sesquicentennial.
Ray and Dee Dee Ferguson donated the sign to the Churchill Arts Council in 2005. The sign was perched on two poles at the Arts Council where the re-lighting ceremony occurred.
“The 150th celebrations starts right now and also on Nevada’s real birthday,” said Tedford, who described himself as a traditionalist for honoring the state’s birthday on the official day. “This sign is iconic. People who traveled through Fallon would remember the sign and the rope that the cowboy lassoed around the motel sign.”
Valerie Serpa, executive director of the Arts Council, said when the motel and its land were sold, she said the Fergusons wanted to ensure the sign did not go away. Volunteers placed the sign on a truck and hauled it to one of the hangars at the Fallon Municipal Airport for storage. Over the years, Serpa said it cost $16,000 to restore the sign.
“It has the original neon,” Serpa said minutes after the re-lighting. “It is really unusual for a sign to have the original tubing.”
Serpa said the Lariat Motel’s history is unique according to information compiled by the Churchill County Museum.
The Fallon Standard of May 13, 1953, reports the Lariat Motel readies for a May 15 opening, and on June 13, the newspaper reports the motel area was added to the city.
Accounts told of how Sam Higginbotham, a licensed contractor and plumber, was in charge of the construction work. The Fallon Standard reported “The exterior is faced half way up with Roman brick. There are nine units with two double beds and nine with one. All are to be carpeted wall to wall.”
Before the motel was built, the property was located in the county.
“Property owned by Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham beyond the west city limits is being added to the city of Fallon as of June 18. The 1.67-acre parcel is largely occupied by he Lariat Motel recently completed by the Higginbothams. Property has been part of the Saunders addition.”
In 1958, accounts showed the Higginbothams sold the motel to K&S Machine and Manufacturing Co., and less than one year later, the company sold to Albert and Julia Mustakis.
Albert Mustakis died on Sept. 24, 2004, and the property went to his wife and son, Kestutis Albert Mustakis.
Ray Ferguson, DBA as Raymf, Lld Partnership, bought the property, but it remained vacant for a period of time until 2010 when it became the site of Maverik, one year before Julia Mustakis died.