Wigwam motel on Route 66 in San Bernardino

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Wigwam motel on Route 66 in San Bernardino

Postby nichols » Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:44 am

Inland Empire Daily Bulletin

Wigwam revamps image

Route 66 classic won't rent by the hour

AMY DONOVAN and
MICHAEL RAPPAPORT
STAFF WRITERS
Monday, April 05, 2004 - SAN BERNARDINO - A close look at the sign in front of the Wigwam Motel still shows a faded slogan.

"Do it in a teepee."

That's not an image Jagdish Patel and his son Manoj are trying to perpetuate. Indeed, when the new owners complete their renovations of the 51-year-old landmark, they're hoping both the slogan and the image that went with it will disappear.

"No hourly rates," Jagdish said. "No weekly rates either."

Hourly rates were part of the previous image, seemingly catering to a crowd not all that interested in sleeping. Weekly rates, Patel said, resulted in homeless locals moving in.

"They end up trashing the rooms and are more careless because they don't own the furniture or the carpet," he said.

What the Patels -- who purchased the motel in 2002 for just under $1 million and have spent nearly $250,000 renovating -- hope to do is return the Wigwam to its glory days as a historic landmark and a destination for Route 66 travelers.

"We saw the potential of the place," Manoj said. "For five to 10 years, the previous owners let it run down."

The Wigwam was built in 1953, the last of seven built from one coast to the other. Frank Redford built the first ones in Kentucky and then sold the right to build others.

Chester Lewis built one in Holbrook, Ariz., and worked out an unusual method of payment for the rights. According to his son, John Lewis, his father put radios in each unit that would play for 10 cents for half an hour.

Redford got all the dimes.

In 1945, Redford sold his motels and moved to Rialto. Route 66 was the main western thoroughfare for travelers coming to Los Angeles, and he built his final Wigwam on the north side of the highway.

It opened in 1953, just before the new San Bernardino Freeway -- eventually to become Interstate 10 -- opened and began pulling traffic away from the slower Route 66.

Redford died in 1958 and his motel began changing owners. By the 1970s, the Wigwam was offering hourly rates and water beds. It had become part of the suburban decay that tends to occur when a former main highway is bypassed by wider, faster roads.

Author John Margolies, who glorified the old independent motels in a book, spoke with the Daily Bulletin in 1998 about the Wigwam and Route 66.

"There's so little left of what was Route 66 and all the other highways," he said. "It's nice there is so much interest in saving what's left, but it's mostly closing the barn door after the horse has left.

"People are starting to value the past, even if it is mostly gone."

The Patels hope to recapture some of it. Maroj has become involved with Route 66 enthusiasts and is trying to drum up business that way.

Kevin Hansel, president of the California Historic Route 66 Assn., says it is paying off.

"A lot of people have been asking for brochures," he said.

Hansel has also helped with recommendations.

"This is hitting all over," he said.

If it works, the Wigwam will be a very different place than most motels. The Patels plan to capitalize on that fact with their new advertising slogan.

Forget "Do it in a teepee."

Remember this one: "Have you slept in a teepee lately?"

Staff writer Joe Blackstock contributed to this story.

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Postby hanna1 » Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:59 pm

We've been by there so many times, and always say someday we should stay there, so tacky, and could be fun! Glad it's not going away. :D
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Postby annie » Wed Sep 08, 2004 4:08 pm

That is great news! My dad stayed there as a kid when his family moved out here via route 66 from the midwest and I always wanted to stay there sometime but heard that it was really nasty and unsafe throughout the 80s and 90s.

I stayed at the one in Holbrook, AZ last summer and I highly recommend it. It seemed that everything was as close to original as possible and the staff was very friendly. Besides the Wigwam, the town has a bowling alley that has lovely 50s lanes with hand scoring and Joe and Aggie's restaurant and all kinds of mid-century goodness. Some folks are restoring the movie theater and planning to open its doors again too.

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Postby SpudGirl » Wed Sep 08, 2004 7:58 pm

If you ever get the guts to stay at the Wig Wam in Rialto, go across the street to this little Mexican place called Tacos Unicos. They have THE BEST sopes in So Cal. The rest of their food is great too :-)

Spudgirl

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Wigwam

Postby scottkaycee » Wed Sep 08, 2004 9:32 pm

The Wigwam Motel looks as good as it has ever looked in the 20 some years I have lived in the Inland Empire. The surrounding neighborhood is still so so, but you can see the improvement in the facility. I have always wanted to stay there as well, but having relatives within blocks of the place I was afraid of being spotted. : ) That particular stretch of route 66 has several semi-intact roadside motels, a heavily grafittied but as yet undemolished bowling alley, and an imaculate Mid century office building for Edison. It's painted Turquoise with complementary intact stonework, soaring glass lobbies and Concrete porte cochere overhangs. The strongest arguement for not staying there is that there is nothing to do for miles.

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Wigwam Motel

Postby wigwammotel » Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:23 pm


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Postby annie » Wed Jan 18, 2006 2:14 am


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Postby roadsidepictures » Thu Jan 19, 2006 12:31 pm

$55 per night

I shot this on the 15th, didn't stay there...might do it next month.


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THANKS!

Postby wigwammotel » Sun Feb 12, 2006 8:49 pm

Annie,

Thanks for staying with us, I hope you enjoyed the stay!

We plan on reworking our rooms, continual improvement. It's good to hear the feedback and thank you for your support.

The motel is currently being featured in Huell Howser's series, California's Gold. You can catch the next airing on PBS KCET LA Feb 27th at 6PM


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Postby Dustyman73 » Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:23 pm

It's great to see this place cleaned up and preserved. I'll have to support them. They had to have put up a lot of capital to make this place look so good and I commend them for it. Now someone needs to start cleaning up the rest of Rialto...

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Postby SpudGirl » Wed Feb 15, 2006 6:32 pm

And if you need somewhere to eat while you're there - go across the street from the WWM and check out Tacos Unicos - best sopes in all of Southern California!

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Postby googiejackalope » Sun Feb 26, 2006 6:38 am



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