Wigwam Village Motel #6
the arid Arizona desert, the Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook
still provides Route 66 aficionados the opportunity to “Sleep in
While passing through Cave City, Kentucky in
1938, Chester E. Lewis was impressed by the distinctive design
of the original Wigwam Village constructed in 1937 by architect
Frank Redford. An astute observer may notice that the Wigwam
Village is not composed of wigwams but of teepees. Mr.
Redford, who patented the wigwam village design in 1936,
disliked the word ‘teepee’ and used ‘wigwam’ instead.
Mr. Lewis purchased copies of the plans and the right to use the
Wigwam Village name. The purchase included a royalty agreement
in which Mr. Lewis would install coin operated radios, and every
dime inserted for 30 minutes of play would be sent to Mr.
Redford as payment. Seven Wigwam Villages were constructed
between 1936 and the 1950s. Finished in 1950, Mr. Lewis’ village
was the sixth, thus its designation as Wigwam Village #6.
Fifteen concrete and steel freestanding teepees are arranged
in a semi-circle around the main office. The motel office and
its surrounding small buildings represent the quarters of the
chief and his family. Each teepee is 21 feet wide at the base
and 28 feet high. The teepees are painted white with a red
zigzag above the doorway. Rooms feature the original hand-made
hickory furniture, and each is equipped with a sink, toilet, and
shower. Vintage automobiles are permanently parked throughout
the property, including a Studebaker that belonged to Mr. Lewis.
In front of the main office were gas pumps that are no longer in
Mr. Lewis successfully operated the motel until
Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook in the late-1970s. Mr.
Lewis sold the business, and it remained open, but only to sell
gas. Two years after Mr. Lewis’ death, his wife and grown
children re-purchased the property and reopened the motel in
1988. They removed the gas pumps and converted part of the main
office into a museum, which is open to the public. The museum
holds Mr. Lewis’ own collection of Indian artifacts, Civil War
memorabilia, Route 66 collectibles, and a petrified wood
collection. Wigwam Village Motel #6 was listed in the National
Register of Historic Places in 2002. In 2003 and 2007, the motel
received Cost-Share Grants from the NPS Route 66 Corridor
Preservation Program. Of the seven original Wigwam Village
Motels, two other Wigwam Village Motels survive: #2 in Cave
City, Kentucky and #7 in Rialto/San Bernardino, California.
Wigwam Village Motel #6 is
located at 811 West Hopi Dr. in Holbrook, AZ. For reservations
contact 928-524-3048 or visit the Wigwam Motel website. Each
teepee has a private bathroom with toilet and shower, a
television, and air conditioner. Keeping with the authenticity
of the original motel, there is no ice machine, but if
requested, staff will fill a small ice bucket for customers.