1936-1940: The development years
The property at 901 S 17th Ave in Phoenix was part of a subdivision called “East Grier Place”. The first record is a plot plan of the proposed development dated 3/25/1936 .
1940-1952: The Hortenau years
Lisa Lanett’s mother, Charlotte von Hortenau, purchased lots 1,2,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19, and 21 from the Griers in 1940. We don’t know if there were any structures on the property at the time of purchase, or if Charlotte built what was later to become the “Monterey Lodge Motel”. I also don’t understand if the amount of $10 mentioned in the Warranty Deed below (click on the link for the PDF document) was the purchase price. Charlotte Hortenau is identified as a “divorced” woman on the deed. Another interesting thing to note: the buyer was not allowed to sell or rent to anyone “of the Ethiopian race” (i.e. African-American).
Charlotte was 47, Lisa was 19 when they acquired the property. One can only imagine what a wonderful place to stay the Monterey Lodge must have been during those years. The following post card references a favorable recommendation in the 1948 edition of Duncan Hines’ Lodging for a Night.
12 years later, on July 3, 1952, Charlotte Hortenau-Bohler sold the motel to John P. Scheets. She appears to have moved away at that point (she was 59, after all). There is a mortgage on record for another property on Evergreen Place purchased from Charlotte Bohler by Jack and Elizabeth Sinclair. Charlotte is now identified as a widow on these documents.
Interestingly, all these documents were notarized in New York. Was Charlotte in a rush to leave, or did she move back to Austria in 1952 and had already left Arizona?
1952-1963: The Scheets years
John P. Scheets purchased the Monterey Lodge on June 6, 1952, as we can see on the Warranty deed.
John P. leased the propert to his son, John J. “Jack” Sheets, who ran it with his wife, Jeri. John P. passed away in 1953. He left one third of the property to his wife, Lela M, and the other two thirds to his 2 sons and grandchildren. Lela and his grand son John J. Sheets II became executors of the estate.
Apparently, John J. and Jeri continued running the lodge after John P’s death, but now paid the lease to the trust, as instructed by the settlement.
This post card does not provide clues about when the picture was taken, except for the postage. The Postal Service charged two cents for postcards from 1/1/1952 through 9/1/1958, which coincides with the Scheets’ ownership of the property, but we already know that, since their names are on the back :-).
This matchbook is another artifact that documents the Scheets’ marketing activities:
Jeri Scheets passed away in 1958, as we know from this affidavit. The records become a little murky after that. Apparently, the trustees made several attempts to sell the property. There is a quit-claim deed and a purchase and sale agreement from 1958, listing Stanley and Mildred Larson as buyers.
The Larsons must have been active real-estate investors. They even sold properties to each other. I found a large number of records related to various of their transactions. Not being an expert in these matters, I am unable to determine their roles in regards to the Monterey Lodge.
Whether the Larson deal fell through (Stanley is identified as a widower in 1959), or the Scheets bought the property back, or something else happened, remains unclear. Fact is, however, that in 1961, the trustees of John P. Scheets sold the property again, this time to Fred and Jean Ann Smith.
This was not meant to be their last sale, though.
The Smiths must have over-extended themselves a bit, or had fraud in mind from the beginning. A tax lien was placed on the Monterey Lodge in 1962. The Scheets trustees started foreclosure proceedings in the same year, and purchased to property back in 1963.
Another sale was recorded in 1963, the last one that involved the Scheets estate.
There is evidence that the Skeffs owned the property until the 1970s (Fozie signed a lease to have a coin-operated laundry facility installed on the premises in 1970). I stopped my research right then.
The current owner of the Monterey Lodge Motel is a lad by the name of Dan A. Gates, who acquired the property in 2002, by selling it to himself. Yes, it is amazing that there are people who apparently manage to eek a living (take a look at the owner’s residence) out of these types of transactions.
While the property is being taxed as a rental property today (see the Assessor’s website for details), it is not listed in the yellow pages and I am not sure I would be able to rent a room there (nor would I want to, from looking at the scene below from Google Street View).
So, unless someone decides to bring it back to life, it seems that the former Monterey Lodge in Phoenix does not have a very bright future.
For further research, please visit the Maricopa County Recorder’s Website.