The Lope: Wigwam Anniversary

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wigwam Anniversary

This coming Sunday is a date which should be considered a minor holiday in the history of roadside architecture.

On February 18, back in 1936, Frank A. Redford of Horse Cave, Kentucky, was granted Design Patent # 98617 for what would become his Wigwam Village #1.

In these design drawings from the original patent application, you'll notice the swastika. Remember, this was 1936 and the symbol, already well-established in Native American (and other) cultures, was not yet associated with the Nazi party in the American mind.

Still, being fully aware of this, I always experience a nanosecond of "what the?" when I see a swastika in pre-WWII design.

Wigwam Village #1 is long-gone, but it's closest living relative, Wigwam Village #2 (above) is still in business in Cave City, KY.

Notice that the zig-zag design has been maintained. Redford also built this one, and went on to exchange rights to use his design for revenue from coin-operated radios, resulting in the eventual existence of seven wigwam motels.

I wrote more about the history of wigwam motels when we visited one of the three surviving ones in Holbrook, Arizona.

Here's another shot of Holbrook's Wigwam Motel, and a link to more photos of it. Note that just as with the one in Cave City, the zig-zag design is intact.

Eventually Redford retired to what is now Rialto, California and built the last wigwam motel, which, after a chain of other owners, is still going. The Rialto paint scheme uses beige rather than white, and omits the zig-zag.

One of our friends and traveling partners came up with what has become one of our catch-phrases: "When you can sleep in a wigwam, you should sleep in a wigwam. G'night!

Thanks to reader and fellow traveler Mark, who alerted us to the patent anniversary.


Blogger ...roseykrh said...

I just wanted to let you know that I have been addicted to this site for weeks. I love the photos, the stories and most of all - Ace!

Keep up the good work, I can't wait to see what adventures are next.

Sun Feb 18, 04:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i became interested becoz i saw the updoming movie of pocahontas.. i am intrigued by her story and how she contributed to american history.. i wanted to know if there are still alot of native americans living in west virginia.. -Kay from the Philippines

Tue Apr 03, 11:37:00 PM  

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