A look at the Wigwam Motels almost 25 years ago

Anthony Reichardt recently uploaded videos he shot during the early to mid-1990s at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, and Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California.

Reichardt has uploaded dozens of videos from that era on his 1959 Cadillac on Route 66 channel. They hold a lot of historic value, as not a lot of videos from Route 66 in that time have made it on the internet.

Here’s the video from Rialto, when the Wigwam’s owners used the racy tagline “Do It in a Tepee” and catered to often-disreputable customers.

As Reichardt himself says in the video: “What a dump.”

Here’s the video from Holbrook, which was lovingly maintained:

What a difference a few years make.

By 2003, the Patel family took over the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, chased out the ne’er-do-well clients and dramatically improved the property’s appearance. It continues to get high marks from overnight visitors.

Meanwhile, word from a few Route 66 travelers is the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook still is good but declining somewhat in terms of upkeep. It’s not close to being the “dump” category mentioned, but the property had better get TLC soon. Perhaps the Lewis family, which has owned it for decades, will get to work on that during the off-season.

Wigwam Motels were built from the late 1930s to the early 1950s by Frank Redford. A total of seven Wigwam Villages existed; three survive, including the original in Cave City, Kentucky. The Holbrook site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The Rialto site was added to the National Register in 2012.

(Image of one of the tepees at a Wigwam Motel by stefernie via Flickr)

5 thoughts on “A look at the Wigwam Motels almost 25 years ago

  1. I have been to the Rialto location and the owners take very good care of it. They restored it very nicely and are very friendly to “lookie loos” and they have a quaint gift shop.

  2. It would be helpful for complaints (Wigwam Holbrook) to be addressed directly to the business. Contructive criticism is usually welcomed in a busines. I have visited in Holbrook (not as an overnight guest) and I believe that they would privately welcome comments. It continues to be a photo draw for 66. Any business is a challenge.

  3. Just spent a few nights again at the Wigwam in Holbrook … nothing wrong with it. And when you say “off season”, I was there in the off season and the Wigwams were booked, including some of the back rooms they own.

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