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Wigwam Village #6
|Location||811 West Hopi Drive, Holbrook, Arizona 86025|
|Architect||Frank Redford, Chester Evert Lewis|
|MPS||Historic US Route 66 in Arizona MPS|
|NRHP Reference #||02000419 |
|Added to NRHP||May 02, 2002|
The Wigwam Motels, also known as the "Wigwam Villages", is a motel chain in the United States built during the 1930s and 40s. The rooms are built in the form of tipis, mistakenly referred to as wigwams. It originally had seven different locations: two locations in Kentucky and one each in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, and California.
They are very distinctive historic landmarks. Two of the three surviving motels are located on historic U.S. Route 66: in Holbrook, Arizona, and on the city boundary between Rialto and San Bernardino, California. All three of the surviving motels are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky, was listed in 1988 under the official designation of Wigwam Village #2; the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, was listed as Wigwam Village #6 in 2002; and the Wigwam Motel in Rialto/San Bernardino, California, was listed in 2012 as Wigwam Village #7.
- 1 History
- 2 Wigwam villages
- 3 Other wigwam-like motels
- 4 Appearances in popular culture
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
Frank A. Redford developed the Village after adding tipi-shaped motel units around a museum-cum-shop he had built to house his collection of Native American artifacts. He applied for a patent on the ornamental design of the buildings on December 17, 1935, and was granted Design Patent 98,617 on February 18, 1936. The original drawing includes the swastika, at the time a symbol associated with native Americans or often worn as a good-luck charm.
Seven Wigwam Villages were built between 1933 and 1949.
Village #1: Horse Cave, Kentucky
The central building and gas pumps are visible on undated postcards. Six more wigwams were built to be used as guest rooms.
This village was reportedly closed in 1935 when the nearby Wigwam Village #2 was opened. Village #1 was razed in 1982.
Village #2: Cave City, Kentucky
Wigwam Village #2 was built in 1937 on U.S. Route 31W in Cave City, Kentucky, close to Mammoth Cave National Park and a few miles south of the original Wigwam Village #1. The address is 601 North Dixie Hwy, Cave City, Kentucky.
It consists of 15 wigwams used as guest rooms that are arranged in a semicircle. In the center is a much bigger concrete and steel central structure that originally served as a restaurant, plus a common area with playground, recreation space, and pavilion. Each wigwam has a paved pad to accommodate one car. The restaurant is no longer in operation, but the motel is still open and welcoming guests.
The diameter at the base of each tipi is 14 feet (4.3 m), and they are 32 feet (9.8 m) in height. Behind the main room of each unit is a small bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower. In 2008, the rooms contain the original restored hickory furniture and a window-mounted air conditioner. There are no telephones to maintain the original atmosphere of the motel, but the rooms do have cable TV and internet access.
Village #3: New Orleans, Louisiana
Village #4: Orlando, Florida
This relatively large wigwam village consisted of 27 or 31 guest rooms, each in a separate wigwam constructed to resemble a horseshoe shape. A restaurant was built into the central and larger wigwam and more services were available, including a pool located in the middle of the lot. It was nicknamed and also self-proclaimed as "Orlando's Largest Motel".
Village #5: Bessemer, Alabama
This wigwam village and cafe fell into ruin after it went out of business in 1964. It was demolished soon afterwards.
Village #6: Holbrook, Arizona
Arizona motel owner Chester E. Lewis built this Wigwam Village in 1950. It is located on historic Route 66, at 811 West Hopi Drive in Holbrook, Arizona. Nearby places of interest include Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater (Barringer Crater), and the Grand Canyon.
The plans for this motel were based on the original of Frank A. Redford. Lewis first became aware of the distinctive wigwam designs when he was passing through Cave City in 1938. He purchased the rights to Redford's design, as well as the right to use the name "Wigwam Village," in a novel royalty agreement: coin operated radios would be installed in Lewis's Wigwam Village, and every dime inserted for 30 minutes of play would be sent to Redford as payment.
The motel is arranged as a square, with 15 concrete and steel wigwams on three sides and the main office on the fourth; there was also originally a gas station on the complex. The individual units are called "wigwams," not "rooms" or "tepees" or "cabins." The units are numbered from 1 to 16 (there is no 13). The base diameter is 14 feet (4.3 m), with each unit 32 feet (9.8 m) in height. Behind the main room of each unit is a small bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower. Current rooms contain the original restored hickory furniture, two double beds, cable TV, and a window-mounted air conditioner. In keeping with the authenticity of the restoration, there are no telephones, Internet access, or ice machine. Vintage restored automobiles from the 1960s and earlier are located throughout the parking area. Small green metal benches etched with the words "Wigwam Village #6" are scattered throughout the complex as well.
Lewis operated the motel successfully until closing it in 1974 when Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook. Two years after his death in 1986, sons Clifton and Paul Lewis and daughter Elinor renovated the motel, finally reopening it in 1988.
The Lewis family continues to run and maintain Wigwam Village #6. Elinor often shows up at 4:00 pm to open the office, and if requested, will fill a small ice bucket for customers. Near the registration desk is a small room that contains many of Chester Lewis's memorabilia, including a necklace of human teeth of unknown origin.
Village #7: Rialto/San Bernardino, California
Frank Redford built this complex for himself in 1947–49 and not as a franchise of the Holbrook, Arizona, property. The address of the motel is Rialto, California, but the motel is physically located in San Bernardino. It is on the boundary between the two cities on historic Route 66, with an address of 2728 West Foothill Boulevard, Rialto, California.
Unlike the one arch of wigwams in other surviving villages, Village #7 has a double row of wigwam guest rooms. They total 19 in number, as well as a base for what seems to be another never-completed wigwam in the back of the property. A central building is currently used as an office, with a very spacious lobby that is open 24 hours a day for all travelers. There is also a swimming pool, a large grass front, and over 35 palm trees surrounding the entire property.
Wigwam Village #7 is considered by many travelers to be the most famous and well-kept of the villages. The property had become very run down and rooms were rented by the hour, aggravated by a sign advertising "Do it in a tipi" that is still on site in the back. However, the complex underwent an intense renovation effort by the Patel family, for which they received the 2005 Cyrus Avery Award by the National Historic Route 66 Federation. Attention to detail was the main focus during renovation, as the wigwams lost their zigzag pattern. The restoration restored the motel's reputation and returned confidence to travelers. The Patel family continuously maintains Mr. Redford's beloved Wigwam Village #7 and caters to modern travelers on the Historic 66 "Mother Road."
Other wigwam-like motels
The Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, Texas near Houston, which was built in 1942, is a setup where the tipis are of a different shapes and all line up in a straight line. It is not of the same design nor heritage as the Wigwam Motels.
Wharton's Tee Pee Motel had been in disrepair for decades. Then, in July 2003, Bryon Woods, a diesel mechanic, won the Texas Lottery. At his wife's urging, Woods bought the property. Modern conveniences were added, and the Tee Pee Motel reopened for business in October 2006. In March 2012 the motel was the site of a large drugs seizure.
Appearances in popular culture
The motels and their imitators have been parodied many times. Rockstar's 2004 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas game contains a Tee Pee Motel. In the 2006 Pixar film Cars, one of the characters runs a "newly refurbished" neon-lit motel called the Cozy Cone Motel in which each room is fashioned as a traffic cone.
In 2012 a digitally altered image of Wigwam Village #6 appeared (without the consent of the owner) in an advert for the Microtel hotel chain as a stand-in for lodgings where "you’ll never know what you’ll get" despite the Villages' consistently positive ratings from customers.
Wigwam Motel in Holbrook Arizona is featured in the 1991 movie Dark Wind, based on a Tony Hillerman novel and starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "Wigwam Motel by AreaG2". AreaG2, Inc. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Levinger, Larry (May 2001). "Wigwam Motel: get your kitsch". Via - AAA Magazine. Archived from the original on June 3, 2010. Retrieved May 2013.
- National Register of Historic Places, Wigwam Village No. 2 (Record Number: 408243), National Park Service
- "Wigwam Village No.2, Cave City, Kentucky". Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- Naomi Lewin. "Sleep in a Wigwam!". savvytraveler.publicradio.org. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "U.S. Design Patent 98,617 (February 18, 1936) (enter D98,617 to retrieve patent)". Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- National Register of Historic Places, Wigwam Village #6 (Record Number: 348967), National Park Service
- "Wigwam Motel: Located On Old Route 66". 29 November 2004. Archived from the original on 13 July 2005. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- Joseph Baneth Allen. "A Teepee Tradition". American Profile. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- National Register of Historic Places, Wigwam Village No. 7 (Record Number: 491869), National Park Service
- Warner, Gary (March 16, 2012). "A day trip on the Mother Road". Orange County Register.
- Green, Gerald (2007-05-26). "66 Makeover Project to be Former Motel". Clinton Daily News (Clinton, OK). Retrieved 22 November 2008. "Two Avery Award winners are expected, including ... the Patel Family, 2005, for the restoration of the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, Calif."
- Piotrowski, Scott (2005-09-17). "Rendezvous Underway". Pasadena, CA: 66 Productions. Retrieved 22 November 2008. "Congratulations go out to ... the Patel family, owners of the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, for winning the 2005 Avery Award for Preservation"
- Rokos, Brian (25 August 2011). "Iconic motel seeks National Register status". Press-Enterprise.
- Johnny Stucco. "Little Tee Pee(s) on the Prairie". TexasEscapes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- Associated Press. "My teepee or yours? Tee Pee Motel restoration brings back a bygone American era". U.S. & Canada Travel. NBCnews.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Texas Tee Pee Motel Restoration Underway". Roadside America.com. 2005-04-05. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- Allison Miles. "Wharton's Tee Pee Motel is throw-back to bygone era". Victoria Advocate. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- John Nova Lomax. "Crime Tee Pee Motel: Kitschy Wharton Landmark Scene of March Drug Bust". Houston Press, Hairballs Blog. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- Ron Warnick. "TV ad denigrates Wigwam motels". Route 66 News.
- Roadside Giants by Brian and Sarah Butko, ISBN 0-8117-3228-2 (October 2005)
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