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History of the Wigwam Motel

The history of the Wigwam Motel is very interesting for many people.  Our father, Chester E. Lewis, had other motels along Old Route 66 in the 1930's in other Arizona cities.  He saw his first Wigwam Village in Cave City, Kentucky in 1938.  A man by the name of Frank Redford already had a couple of Wigwam Villages built in Kentucky by that time.

Our father decided that he would like to build a Wigwam Village of his own.  In that time period, the term franchises or chain motels were not known of, much less used.  Mr. Redford was more interested in sharing his novel idea than making money. Mr. Lewis and Mr. Redford came to an agreement that radios would be placed in each Wigwam that would play for one half hour for a silver dime.  Mr. Redford would then receive the dimes from the radios for a period of some years in payment for the use of his plans.

There were seven of these Wigwam Villages built from the 1930's to the 1950's from Florida to California. The one, here in Holbrook, receives a lot of media attention due to it being located on Route 66 and located near several Native American Reservations,Navajo, Hopi, White Mountain Apache Reservations.  There are several vintage automobiles that are around the perimeter of the property.

The Wigwam Motel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 2002.


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Geschichte des Wigwam Motels
Im Jahre 1942 entdeckte Chester E. Lewis I. ein Wigwam Motel in Cove, Kentucky und hatte die Idee, dies als Vorbild für ein Motel an der ROUTE 66 (auch liebevoll "Main Street USA" genannt) in Holbrook zu nehmen.

Der Architekt, Frank Redford, gestattete den Bau von insgesamt 7 Motels nach seinen Plänen, und als Bezahlung erwartete er die Radiogebühren ( 10 cents für 30 Min.) aus dem eingebauten Radio in jedem Wigwam.

Die Eröffnung des Wigwam Motels in Holbrook erfolgte  im Jahr 1950 und das Motel lenkte die Aufmerksamkeit aller Benutzer der ROUTE 66 von Chicago nach Los Angeles auf sich. 1974 kam die Autobahn I- 40 und der Verkehr führt seitdem an Holbrook vorbei. 14 Jahre blieb das Wigwam geschlossen.

1988 eröffnete die Lewis Familie nach einer Renovierung wieder das Wigwam Motel, ausgestattet mit dem original Mobiliar. Alle 16 Wigwams verfügen seitdem über Gasheizung und Klimaanlage, Dusche etc., Farbfernseher, nur das Telefon "fehlt".
Heute ist das WIGWAM  MOTEL in Holbrook als einziges in Arizona übrig und ist ein Muß für alle Besucher der alten ROUTE 66.

Am 02. Mai 2002 wurde das Wigwam Motel in das nationale Verzeichnis historischer Stätten (National Register of Historic Places) aufgenommen.

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Histoire du Wigwam Motel
L'histoire du Wigwam Motel est vraiment intéressante pour beaucoup de gens. Notre père, Chester E.Lewis, possédait d'autres motels tout au long
de la Route 66, dans les années 30, dans d'autres villes de l'Arizona. Il avait vu son premier Wigwam Village à Cave City, dans le Kentucky, en
1938. Un homme, nommé Franck Redford était déjà le propriétaire de deux Wigwam Villages au Kentucky, à cette époque.

En 1942, notre père décida de construire aussi un Wigwam Village. A cette époque, les franchises et chaînes d'hôtels n'étaient pas connues et encore
moins utilisées. M. Redford était plus intéressé par le partage d'une idée novatrice que de faire de l'argent. M. Lewis et M. Redford trouvèrent un
arrangement en concluant que les radios installées dans chaque wigwam fonctionneraient à raison de 10 cents la ½ heure. Ainsi, M. Redford reçut
ces « dimes » issus des radios, pendant quelques années, en règlement de l'utilisation de ses plans.

Il y eut 7 de ces Wigwam Villages construits des années 30 aux années 50, de la Floride à la Californie. Le nôtre, ici à Holbrook, reçu beaucoup
d'attention des médias du fait de sa localisation sur la Route 66 et de sa proximité de plusieurs réserves indiennes comme celles des Navajos, des
Hopis et des Apaches des White Mountains.

En 1974, à l'ouverture de l'Interstate I 40, la Route 66 fut abandonnée par les voyageurs et le Wigwam Motel fut fermé pendant 14 ans. En 1988, la
famille Lewis décida de le restaurer et de le remeubler avec les meubles d'époque. Ainsi les 16 wigwams retrouvèrent leur vocation, agrémentés de
standards de confort plus modernes comme la climatisation, le chauffage, les douches et le téléphone.

Aujourd'hui, le Wigwam Motel d'Holbrook reste toujours l'une des enseignes mythiques de la Route 66 en Arizona et désormais, au fil des ans, afin
d'en perpétrer l'ambiance, plusieurs automobiles de collection s'ajoutent à la décoration du périmètre de la propriété.

Le Wigwam Motel est inscrit au titre de l'Inventaire National des Sites Historiques (National Register of Historic Places) depuis le 2 Mai 2002.

Translation  by  M Oliver Deroussen / Translation par M Oliver Deroussen - merci beaucoup.


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WIGWAM STORIES
CBS Interview
Dec. 09, 2001

Hello, my name is John Lewis.  Our father built the Wigwam Motel over fifty years ago.  I wanted to share with you some of the stories that people call in after seeing the Wigwams in a newspaper article or magazine article. This is what I had related to CBS News out of New York in a taped interview.

A lady by the name of Sheila Settles from Indiana had recently seen an article by Associated Press in the
Indianapolis newspaper. She called me on the phone and told me that 1952 her family drove up to the Wigwam Motel and she was only four years old. She was asleep in the back seat of the car. While she was asleep the rest of the family left the car to look around.  She woke up and saw all of those tepees, and thought that her family had been captured by the Indians. Later she had her own Wigwam for the evening and was happy as a child could be.



Several months ago I received a call for a reservation. This lady lived in the Los Angeles area.  About a week later she called up and had to cancel the reservation. A few days later I heard from her again and she said that she had to cancel earlier due to the fact that their nine year old boy was under going chemotherapy for cancer. She asked, that if there were a free window open for them and their boy was feeling okay if that could just come in. I told them of course they could.
Two days later I received a call from Kingman, Arizona and they were on their way. I made sure that their Wigwam was ready for them. When their car drove up by the office I could see that they had a bed made up for their boy. He was sitting up, but his head was bowed downward. He didn't even look up. When the father came to register I pulled out a vintage postcard. It was very old, over 40years old. I told him that I wanted him to give it to his boy and that it was very old and quite hard to get ahold of. Finally, both parents were up at the office.  The boy remained in the Wigwam as he had a five year old sister to keep him company. The parents were very courageous. I finally saw the boy in the back standing in the door way of his Wigwam. When morning came they all had smiles on their faces as they had enjoyed a good evening together. This is one of the things that their son wanted to do afterall as the parents had related to me earlier.


On Dec 28, 2001 Mrs Sheri Sullivan wrote a letter to the WIGWAM MOTEL in which she recalls from her childhood (1957):

We stayed at the Wigwam Motel on Nov. 1st 1957. I was six years old, my brother Steve was 12. My parents, brother and I were traveling route 66 from California to Chicago, then on to New Jersey. We traveled in a 1952 Plymouth Belvedere car.
Our first stop was Holbrook - I begged my folks to stay at the funny wigwams. They agreed to spend the night here.
I remember it being cold and the office manager coming out to our wigwam and turning on the wall-heater for us - I never saw wall-heaters before because we had forced heating at home. The wall-heater made odd noises and scared me to leave it on all night. My father went ot the office and brought the office manager to our room to say it's all right, not to be scared. He was a nice man as I remember, but it didn't work - no heat that night, we all froze thanks to me.
I have never forgotten this place or the heater.
Thanks for the memory.
Sheri Sullivan
PS: I think we paid five dollars for the night back then.



On April 18, 2003 Jill and John DeVita from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

To the Lewis family and future guests of the Wigwam Motel

I had a few days with my son who is eight years old. While looking through the National Geographic Traveler Guide I spotted the Wigwam Motel and its great looking rooms. I knew this would be a wonderful experience for both, me and him. We jumped in the car and made our way from Phoenix to Holbrook. Luckily when we arrived there was a room.
John Lewis allowed us to see the room before we agreed to stay, however we were so excited, we had already made up our minds. The motel is run as it was originally when John's father built it.
My son was very excited and more pleased than he had originally thought he would be, once he saw the room. I'm glad we got the chance to stay in a place with so much history, and to make great memories with my child.
Thank you for the memories and the experience.
Jill and John

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