Friday, June 14

Travel the wigwam way

I was able to show Phoebe (and Clementine) one of my favorite pieces of Americana when we drove down historic Route 66 in Holbrook, Ariz.: Wigwam Village #6.

Arizonan Chester E. Lewis first became aware of the distinctive wigwam designs when he was passing through Cave City, Ky., in 1938. He purchased the rights to Frank A. Redford's design (Redford called the buildings "wigwams" because he didn't like the word tipi), as well as the right to use the name "Wigwam Village."

Opening in 1950, Lewis operated Wigwam Village #6 successfully until closing it in 1974 when Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook. Two years after his death in 1986, children Clifton, Paul, and Elinor bought it back and renovated the motel, finally reopening it in 1988. The Lewis family continues to run and maintain Wigwam Village #6. 

Fifteen concrete and steel wigwams are numbered from 1 to 16 (there is no teepee 13). Each wigwam is 14 feet wide and 32 feet high. Behind the main room of each unit is a small bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower.

Rooms currently contain the original restored hickory furniture, two double beds, cable television, and a window-mounted air conditioner; there are no telephones, Internet access, or ice machines (although ice is available in small buckets upon request).

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.

Seven Wigwam Villages were built between 1933 and 1949, but only three remain - two of which are on Route 66.

Better get your kicks while you can!

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