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Popular Mechanic’s Auto Court Bungalow on Route 66


Shady Rest, West Tulsa, Oklahoma

Shady Rest Cottage Camp, West Tulsa, Oklahoma

In 1935, with an eye on the growing popularity of auto camps, Popular Mechanics published a set of  plans and specifications for a 10  x 12 foot frame cabin, finished with the sheathing of the owner’s choice–clapboard, log siding, or stucco–on the outside and fiber board on the inside.

It was a front gable cabin constructed with a seven foot high frame of 2 x 4 inch studs set on a 4 x4 inch sill plate. The gable was three feet to the ridge. The roof could be roll tar paper or shingles. Standardized barn windows in the walls provided cross ventilation. It was big enough to accommodate two people in a standard double bed. 

Maurice Colpitts, a plumbing inspector for the city of Tulsa, hired a contractor to build the Shady Rest in 1936.

The contractor may have built the little 10 x 12 foot 9 inch clapboard shacks at the Shady Rest from a prefabricated kit purchased at the local lumber store or from the Popular Mechanics cabin design.

Colpitts’ contractor finished the cabins in clapboard and constructed car ports in the space between the shacks. When the Shady Rest was completed, Colpitts moved his family to the auto camp where they all had a hand in maintaining the site while he continued to inspect plumbing for the city of Tulsa.

Charles Lee Cook, manager of the Shady Rest Motel in Tulsa, measured one of his cabins for me to see if it conformed to the plans and specifications of the Popular Mechanics cabin . Close enough.

Bungalow Court, Kingman, Arizona

Bungalow Court, Kingman, Arizona

Three years later, Jack Sapp built a series of similar cabins in Kingman.

In 1938, Duncan Hines recommended to tourists arriving in Kingman, “While it may be hot up here, it is nothing to what it is down in Needles. So better hang around until ‘long about sunset.”

It was good advice, and the people of Kingman supplied plenty of motels to hang around in. The December 22, 1939 issue of the Mohave County Miner announced, “Auto Courts Becoming One Most Important Businesses Here, Huge Sums Invested.” By the end of 1939 Kingman had accommodations for 800 visitors.

Jack Sapp added twenty-four cabins to Kingman’s stock of overnight housing. Sapp built simply, possibly using the design for the ten foot by twelve foot cabin published in Popular Mechanics four years earlier. Sapp added a larger building to house his office and residence, and finished the whole in stucco.


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