Holbrook Arizona’s Wigwam Motel – Route 66
Finally. I had 2 days to ride. what seemed like the longest winter of my life is about over. Over enough that I can load up my bike and sleep in the freezing cold if I need to, but at least I’m RIDING.
I couldn’t sleep all night. I finally got going around 7AM to load up my bike and head out of chandler, leaving Robyn and the kids to play in the pool all day and go shopping while I pointed my bike toward Holbrook. The weather was great, but got chilly as I climbed into Payson and the mountains of Heber, then finally down into Holbrook. Holbrook is as far east as I’ve ever been on route 66, and I had to see what I think is an icon of the mother Road: The wigwam Motel
Built in 1950 by Arizona motel owner Chester E. Lewis, the plans 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’ Wigwam Village, and every dime inserted for 30 minutes of play would be sent to Redford as payment.
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.
Fifteen concrete and steel teepees are arranged as a square with one edge missing where the main office is located. They are numbered from 1 to 16 (there is no teepee 13). The diameter of the base of each teepee 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; there are no telephones or Internet access. Vintage restored automobiles from the 1960’s 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.
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 (there is no ice machine in keeping with the authenticity of the restoration) for customers. Near the registration desk is a small room which contains many of Chester Lewis’ memorabilia (including a necklace of human teeth of unknown origin).
Nearby places of interest include Petrified Forest National Monument and Meteor Crater (Barringer Crater). Wigwam Village #6 was featured in the second episode of Oprah and Gayle’s Big Adventure on Oprah’s TV show. It is located on Historic Route 66, 811 West Hopi Drive, Holbrook, Arizona.
It was still early, and I’d intented on meeting the owners to pitch them a web site in trade for letting me stay at there for free (Holbrook is a perfect place to start a route 66 journey east from St. George), but they open late so I headed west.