The largest and most eye-catching motel sign on Jacksboro Highway might be going away soon. The Caravan Inn owners are toying with the idea of selling the property to a gas station chain. The recession has taken a toll on the motel business since 2007.
“The economy the last three years is bad, but we survive,” said Jayantilal Patel, who has owned and operated the inn with his wife, Asha, since 1996 at the northwest corner of Jacksboro Highway and River Oaks Boulevard.
If they sell out, they’ll take with them the assorted sculptures they’ve erected in the past 10 years — a statue of liberty lamp, a brass dolphin fountain, and an eagle.
But the huge sign will probably be left behind.
“It’s too heavy, it’s too tall,” Jayantilal Patel said.
Manufacturing a similar sign today would cost a small fortune, Patel said. The sign might be valuable to someone who happens to have a motel named Caravan Inn. Or maybe a collector is looking for a really, really large piece of yard art. Now that would make an impressive collectible.
Anything would be better than seeing the cool old sign demolished.
The Patels sank money into renovations and landscaping after buying the property 15 years ago, although they upset local art enthusiasts after selling a popular Charles Williams sculpture that was viewable from the highway. In its place they erected a Statue of Liberty sculpture and lamp in 2000 after finding it at the Canton flea market.
Next came the metal eagle.
“I like antiques,” Patel said. “I paid $500 for the guy to paint the eagle. It took him five days.”
In 2002 they built the heart-shaped fountain with the arrow through it, and erected the dolphin sculpture, a pricey piece they picked up for $3,800 at an auction.
But the Caravan Inn sign is the real work of art. Let’s hope it sticks around and provides many more years of visual pleasure to passing motorists.
Previous entries in the Jacksboro Highway sign series: