In the past dozen years of so we have lost a number of gems here in Kingman – the Frontier Cafe and Bar, Desert Drug, Coronado Court, and Walapai Court to name but a few. We are on the verge of loosing a few more including a couple of real treasures such as the Beale Hotel and the 1939 El Trovatore Motel.
Being a realist is never easy. As an example, I have come to accept the fact the Beale Hotel is gone. It still stands but the cost of resurrecting it, and the fact that there is a a near complete lack of effort to repair broken windows or leaks, ensures that soon there will be another gaping hole in the Kingman historic district.
The El Trovatore Motel with its million dollar location high on a bluff along Route 66 still retains a surprising number of original or period attributes. As vintage motels all along that old highway are being given a profitable new lease on life, my hopes are high that this treasure will be dusted off and added to the growing list of time capsules where the neon again casts a glow across legendary Route 66.
John F. Miller, the developer who built the El Travotore Motel in 1939, had made a fortune by spotting opportunity years before the competition. In 1905, he purchased a lot at the intersection of First Street and Fremont Street in a dusty little desert backwater town named Las Vegas.
With the completion of Hoover Dam, Miller realized Kingman was a town with unlimited potential. After all, it was ideally located at the junction of U.S. 66 and a direct highway to Las Vegas.
One aspect of this property that I long to see restored is the tower with large letters spelling out E-L T-R-O-V-A-T-O-R-E that stands tall on the hill behind the motel. To say the very least, this property has true potential for the ambitious investor.
Bell’s Motel, dating to the 1940s, lacks the scenic location, towering signage, or unique Art Deco features such as rounded glass bricks. What is does have is simple, quaint elegance.
The stone facades with decorative touches, the little cactus garden at the front office, and the long, shaded veranda fuel the imagination with reflections of what once and what could be. This little auto court is also one that could reap tremendous rewards for the investor with imagination.
Initially owned by Mr. and Mrs. Elza Bell, initial promotion proclaimed it to be, “A fully modern, fire-proof, air-cooled motel.” The 1955 edition of the Western Accommodations Directory published by AAA indicates the motel featured basic amenities with rates ranging from $4.00 to $7.00 per night.
Now catering to the weekly and monthly rental trade is the Arcadia Lodge, originally the Arcadia Court, that also dates to 1939. The 1954 AAA directory lists this as, “An attractive Spanish style court on landscaped grounds.” Rates ranged from $4.50 to $10.00 per night, an indication this was a property with class.
With the exception of the addition of a second story in the late 1940s, and a pool in the 1950s, little has changed. It remains a time capsule of life on the double six and the great two lane highways of America before the dawning of the generic age.
Immediately to the west is the White Rock Court. When built by Conrad Minka, a Russian hard rock miner, in 1935, the court facade appeared similar to the Bell’s Motel but in recent years, for reasons unknown, the owners decided to paint it white to match the name.
Dusty little gems still abound in Kingman. There is the Siesta Motel across from Walgreens, 1929, a vestige from Richards Court, 1930, one lone cabin from a motel complex built in 1928, and a few period dealerships including one where shiny new Edsel cars faced Route 66, and a restaurant or two.
When it comes to treasure in Kingman there are two questions to be asked. Does the community care enough to preserve them for a future generation and profit from them now? Will they survive?
Regular readers seemed to really enjoy the recent photo contest. This time there isn’t a prize or deadline, just a little good natured fun.
The garage and former showroom for the Taylor Motors Chrysler dealership still stands along Route 66. Any one care to guess where it can be found?