The White Rock Court on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona is a manifestation of Conrad Minka seizing the day.

Why a coat of white paint was recently added to the stone walls of the old auto court on Route 66 is anybody’s guess. I know that it was named the White Rock Court when it opened back in the mid 1930s. Still, the paint is not an improvement for the tired old relic.

It is an example of the treasures, the places with fascinating stories that hide in plain sight. They are found in every community in America, large and small. They are often overlooked. And when they are eventually erased through urban development, condemnation and razing because they have become eyesores or fire, seldom is the loss given a great deal of thought.

The White Rock Court is a rarity since it is a prewar Route 66 auto court that retains its garages between rooms. And it is a rarity because it is a tangible link to a dark period of American history. This was the only motel in Kingman, Arizona that was listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book. 

In Kingman, Arizona these treasures hiding in plain sight have been put in the spotlight with the innovative narrated, self guided historic district walking tour developed by Kingman Main Street. Completion of phase one brought the history of the White Rock Court to life. And it brought to life the history of the long vanished Harvey House, the Ramblin’ Rose, an early Travelodge from 1959, with original architectural details, the territorial era Mohave County jail and more than thirty other locations by sharing the stories of the people associated with these time capsules.

It is my hope that this project will serve as a template for other communities that want to preserve the history, the story of places, especially with the Route 66 centennial fast approaching. To date the endeavor in Kingman has exceeded my expectations that it would foster develop a sense of community and community purpose, and that it would become an attraction. Now, I am hoping that the increased awareness translates to preservation.

Left is the original Mohave County Courthouse in Kingman, Arizona. With completion of the new courthouse it was relocated and converted to the Commercial Hotel. The jail was built between 1909 and 1910. Photo Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

The volunteers that brought this long envisioned project to fruition are tired. They poured themselves into the endeavor. Still, we are discussing phase two. In phase one we told the story of the world famous Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, 1946 Dunton Motors, Locomotive Park, Hotel Beale, 1917 Central Commercial complex and the site of the Pioneer Cemetery where bodies are still discovered during high school improvement projects.

So, what would I include in phase two? Well, I have a hundred so places in mind! There are alot of sites along the original alignment of the National Old Trails Road on South Front Street, now Topeka Street that have interesting stories.

And I would really like to document the surprising array of early automobile dealerships in Kingman. The first Ford agency opened in about 1910. There was a Packard and Chandler dealership on South Front Street in about 1916. The former Edsel dealership still stands along Route 66. Star, Cadillac, Mack, Hudson, Studebaker and DeSoto all had dealerships in Kingman.

The walking tour is a monument to patience. It was first proposed after the International Route 66 Festival in 2014.

So, I hope that this tour provides a bit of encouragement for anyone that works tirelessly to breathe new life into an historic district, to build a sense of community and community purpose, and to bring history to life. Don’t give up!

 

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