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- CHAPTER 1 -
Our great American imagination

unusualBuildings

CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18

RICK So, it was well after sundown by the time we caught up to Brian Butko and his traveling family in Cave City. They were staying at the Wigwam Village motel where the individual rooms are like little cabins in the shape of tepees. We wanted to meet Brian and Sarah and the kids here because they were working on a book.

BRIAN The book we’re writing is called ROADSIDE GIANTS, and the whole idea behind it was that we found that we were always taking our family to places like this…

SARAH And we just talk a lot about the different things, and one day we said, Hey that might be a good, good book, and then we said, Let’s make it a children’s book. I know children, he knows roadside, we can collaborate and work together.

RICK And classic roadside places like this Wigwam Village are what they’re concentrating on. The first tepee motel was built around 1930 by Frank Redford to help attract business to his gas station not far from here in Horse Cave, Kentucky. Eventually seven Wigwam Villages would be built. Three still remain: one in Arizona, this one on Route 66 in Rialto, California, and the oldest remaining set, Wigwam Village Number Two, here in Kentucky: 15 tepee-rooms and one large tepee with motel office and gift shop, all owned and operated by Ivan John since 1996.

IVAN It was in bad shape. The floors were terrible. The rooms had to be redecorated. I love old things and I think we all should preserve the old, the things that our parents and grandparents admired most.

BRIAN It’s pretty amazing that places like this have survived.

IVAN There’s a certain type of person that really enjoys being here. There’s this English lady who called me several times in the last several days.

RACHEL I’ve come to see the Wigwam Motel because I’m writing a book about America’s roadside attractions.

RICK Her name is Rachel Morris, and it suddenly seemed as though everybody was here to write something about these unusual little buildings.

RACHEL Anyone could have built here an ordinary motel, there’s loads of them along here, but for some reason, someone chose to do this. It was because they felt creative.

IVAN Each wigwam has a shower, sink, toilet, air-condition, cable TV, coffee, one or two full-size beds.

RACHEL It's ingenious the way they've managed to fit a bed, a desk, a bathroom, a television, everything that you could need in such a shape.

IVAN And the rooms, as a matter of fact, were all just like this here, knotty pine, but they got painted over with, with paint.

BRIAN These are tepees. I think a wigwam would be a more rounded structure, so it's Wigwam Village but they're actually tepees.

SARAH ...As our travels take us around, we're getting pictures with kids in them, without kids in them.

BRIAN We're doing it to have fun, so we never want the research to get in the way, so we go off and have fun and...

RACHEL It's tricky. It's really hard to write about the traveling you're doing while you're doing the traveling.

IVAN The idea is to bring the people together, you know, and this was like a nice gathering place for families.

BRIAN The tepee-shaped buildings, people know they're coming here to have a little bit of a fun time. It's not just everyone going into their motel room on the fourth floor and hiding at night.

RACHEL It's an adventure. It's not just that the Wigwam Motel is here. It's part of life and it brings new things into your life, it brings moments of chance into your life that you wouldn't get otherwise. I think that's what I like about it, but I'm still working that out.

IVAN I think it's cool.

BRIAN Can't help but want to sleep in a wigwam. Even if it is a tepee.

IVAN If you haven't slept in a wigwam, you're not cool.

 


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