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Holbrook, Arizona



Brunswick Hotel, Holbrook, Arizona

Brunswick Hotel, Holbrook, Arizona

In June 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act to preserve and protect places of scientific importance. Before the end of the year Congress set aside the Petrified Forest as a national monument. 

Route 66 went straight through the Petrified Forest, but for the truly curious, it was possible to turn right and travel south through the monument. For those tourists, the return to Route 66 was through the southern end of Holbrook and the Brunswick Motel/Arizona Rancho Motor Lodge.

Brunswick Hotel/Arizona Rancho Motor Lodge/Tom’s Rock Shop, c. 1881

Holbrook, Arizona

For more than a hundred years the pueblo/adobe image was successful in promoting tourism in Holbrook. The Brunswick Hotel served a series of businesses, and reflected Holbrook’s history as a rail center, a cow town, a highway center, and a tourist stop. Located a block from the railroad station, it served train travelers who stopped to visit the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. The cattle barons of the Aztec Land and Cattle Company who drove their herds through town maintained an office in the hotel. In the 1930s Lloyd Taylor purchased the Brunswick and remodeled it into a motor lodge, adding a 12-unit motel wing on the west side of the hotel. In keeping with the pueblo/adobe tradition, Lloyd built the wing in stucco painted white and used vigas to support the roof of the motel and its verandah. In the 1980s, Lloyd’s eldest son, Tom, sold petrified rocks to folks returning to Holbrook from the Petrified Forest.

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona

Wigwam Motel, 1950

Holbrook, Arizona

The Plains Indians dragged their shelter from site to site as they roamed across the grasslands of the Great Plains. The Sioux, from whom the word tepee comes, fixed three long poles together in a tripod with the feet set on the circumference of a circle. They laid additional poles at equal intervals around the circle and laid them up against the tripod, forming the basic structure for the tepee. They wrapped the cone-shaped skeleton in a semi-circle of animal hides, folding back the ends for a door and chimney.

Frank Redford designed tepees to make American sightseers, who wandered the land from tourist site to tourist site, to STOP, and stay the night. He erected his first in 1933. Sixty feet tall, it lured tourists leaving Mammoth Cave to his gas station and cafe at Horse Cave, Kentucky. He installed rest rooms in a matching pair of little tepees. In 1935 at the request of his customers he added six thirty-foot tepees, “sleeping rooms” he called them, to the complex he named Wigwam Village.

 After several false starts, Redford settled on a steel skeleton, forming a cone over which he laid a layer of wood, then a layer of felt, and finally a layer of canvas. He rubbed generous quantities of linseed oil into the cloth to shrink it tight to the frame, and sealed it with stucco. He rolled back the canvas on either side of the door, and cut diamond-shaped windows. He painted the whole white, and added red rickrack around the top, the middle, and around the windows. Redford recognized that while children might clamor to sleep in a tepee, their parents wanted all the modern conveniences. So, he outfitted each tepee with a tile bath and comfortable bedroom. He patented the structure in 1936 and in the following years built a chain of Wigwam Villages. Village #6 is in Holbrook, Arizona, and #7 in San Bernardino, California, both on U.S. 66. Redford owned #7; his friend Chester Lewis owned #6.

Lewis had never considered going into the motel business, even while motels mushroomed around his Holbrook Texaco station. He was doing well, pumping gas and towing wrecks. But in 1946, on a trip to Horse Cave he was struck by Frank Redford’s tepees, purchased the blueprints, returned to Holbrook, and built fifteen stucco tepees along a semi-circular drive around his gas station.


3 Responses

  1. Thanks I found this blog really useful, I’ll recommend it to friends.

  2. Really nice work. Well done.
    Best regards,

  3. Hello. Tom Taylor was my Uncle. He died in 2008. Lloyd Taylor, my Grandfather, had two older boys, Richard and Lloyd Jr. Really, the Brunswick is just one of the building’s old names. It was the later the Arizona Hotel, then Arizona Rancho. Henry Taylor now owns the haunted old place.

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