The historic Hotel Brunswick on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. ©Jim HInckley’s America

The towering old stone hotel has been casting a long shadow in the historic heart of Kingman, Arizona since 1909. It is a tangible link to Arizona territorial history, a nearly forgotten chapter in Ford family history, and even with famous Hollywood celebrities.

John Mulligan arrived in northwest Arizona in the 1870s, about the same time that John W. “Watt” Thompson came to the Arizona territory from New Brunswick, Canada. Mulligan, a stonemason by trade, quickly learned that there was more money in applying his skills than in mining or prospecting even though he had been moderately successful in both pursuits.

A Legacy Built of Stone

According to his obituary published in the Mohave Miner in 1935, in 1881 on the southwest corner of what is now Beale and Fourth Street, Mulligan built the first house in a rough and tumble Atlantic & Pacific Railroad construction tent camp that would become known as Kingman.

The obituary also noted a few of his other contributions to the development of Kingman. He was the primary contractor for the Hotel Beale and Hotel Brunswick.

He was also a charter member of the Elks Lodge. And he was the contractor that built the lodge that still stands on the corner of Fourth and Oak Street. The obituary says that he laid some of the stone “with his own hands.”

He was also the concrete contractor for the Mohave County Jail built between 1909 and 1910. Another relic that stands on courthouse grounds.

The Hotel Beale, Hotel Brunswick, territorial jail and the courthouse built in 1915 are some of the points of interest on the narrated self guided historic district walking tour. This innovative project was developed by Kingman Main Street.

The Ill Fated Partnership

On an array of projects including mining, property speculation, and construction Mulligan partnered with John Thompson. In 1907 the partners began work on their most ambitious project to date, the construction of a stylish, modern hotel on Front Street, now Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66), in the same block as the Hotel Beale.

Named the Brunswick by Thompson, when completed in 1909 this would be the first three story building in Kingman. Using locally quarried Tufa stone from the Metcalf quarry, Thompson and Mulligan planned for this to be one of the finest hotels in the northwest part of the territory.

After completion of the hotel work began to make it competitive with the neighboring Hotel Beale. A newspaper article dated February 1911 noted John Mulligan’s return to Kingman. He had been in Los Angeles purchasing fine furnishings for the third floor of the hotel.

In 1912, the Mulligan and Thompson partnership unraveled. Speculation for the split continues to this day but the actual reasons are lost to history. Reportedly the men would never speak again. The Hotel Brunswick was divided, literally, with construction of a that wall that separated the building into equal halves.

The agreement reached gave each partner twenty-five hotel rooms. Mulligan was also given the original lobby and the bar. Thompson acquired the restaurant. Oddly enough it appears that the hotel continued operating under a single name – Hotel Brunswick.

The Ford Connection

In 1915, Edsel Ford and his college buddies set out on an epic adventure from Michigan to the Panama Pacific Exposition. Photo Historic Vehicle Association

In the summer of 1915, Edsel Ford and a few college buddies set out from Dearborn on a grand adventure. The destination was the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, but like an increasing number of tourists, they set out to see the exotic cultures of Santa Fe and the pueblos in New Mexico. The natural wonders of sites such as the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert were also attractions, so they followed the National Old Trails Road to Los Angeles before proceeding up the Pacific coast.

Unofficially it was also a businiess trip. Edsel inspected a number of Ford agencies, including the one in Kingman. And he often made use of a Ford garage for needed repairs during his adventure.

Ford’s travel journal entry for Thursday July 15, 1915, reads, “Got going from Williams about 11:00. Had lunch at Ash Forks. Loafed along; found it very hot. Bought some gas and oranges at Seligman. Stutz broke another spring and returned to Seligman. Cadillac and Ford went on to Kingman, arriving at midnight, Brunswick Hotel.”

Changing Times

Attesting to the hotel’s prominence the Hotel, Garage, Service Station and AAA Club Directory published in 1927 listed two recommended lodging options in Kingman. The Hotel Beale at $1.50 to $3 per night, and Hotel Brunswick at $1 per night. Evidence of its decline is found in the Directory of Motor Courts and Cottages published by AAA in 1940. The hotel is no longer listed.

Mulligan sold his portion of the property in about 1925. It sold again in about 1928, the Brunswick name was dropped, and it became the Ideal Hotel.

Then in 1930 it was sold again. An article published in the Mohave Miner in November of that year noted, quote, “The name Hotel Brunswick has been restored to what is now known as the Hotel Ideal, it was announced on Wednesday of this week by George La Plante, manager.” It was also noted that extensive work to modernize the hotel was underway.

It was during this period that the distinctive but dated appearing front portico with balcony was removed, and the neon sign added. In the years that followed several cafes operated from the former restaurant including Scudder’s, Richey’s and Lockwood’s Chicken in the Rough.

There is another celebrity association with the hotel. Local legend has it that Clark Gable and Carol Lombard attended a brief reception at the bar after marrying at the St. Johns Methodist Episcopal Church in March 1939.

Dawn of A New Era

The Thompson side of the hotel was sold to Joe Otero in 1959. After a remodel he opened the El Mohave restaurant. It proved to a be popular eatery for locals and for travelers on Route 66. And it was also a favorite of Senator Barry Goldwater when he was in Kingman. In 1966 Otero purchased the rest of the property and closed the hotel. He also removed the dividing wall on the first floor and linked the bar and restaurant.

The restaurant closed in 1980, and the old hotel was left vacant until 1994 when it was acquired by Priscilla and Rennie Davis. Restoration commenced with rebuilding the staircase in its original configuration and replacement of the portico and balcony. For a brief time, the hotel, bar, and restaurant were again open for business. Even the original switchboard, on loan from the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, was placed in its original location. It proved to be a short-lived endeavor. The historic district renaissance was still more than a decade away.

In 1998 the hotel again closed. A series of new owners purchased the property with plans for renovation and restoration of business. But it was not until 2012 when it was acquired by Werner Fleischmann, a Swiss developer, that intermittent work commenced in earnest.

There is still a question about the future of the hotel. Rooms? Apartments? Offices? But there is no question about the restaurant. Fully refurbished it is about to open as Garibaldi’s!


When Kingman Main Street asked for my assistance with development of the narrated walking tour, I jumped at the opportunity. This was an excellent way to bring the city’s history to life, and to share stories of men like John Mulligan and John Thompson. It was also a great way to share America’s story, and inspire road trips by telling people where to go. That is what we do at Jim Hinckley’s America.

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