Wigwam Village #7 – San Bernardino, California - Atlas Obscura

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Wigwam Village #7

These structures were inspired by both Native American shelters as well as, strangely, an ice cream shop. 


Constructed in 1949, and one of only three remaining in use today, the Wigwam Village/Motel is one of the last iconic wigwam villages built by Frank Redford. Redford began constructing these tipi-shaped rooms in 1933. He was inspired to create the villages from his collection of Native American artwork and artifacts. He also gained inspiration from the design of an ice cream shop he visited in Long Beach, California.

At one point, seven of these unique locations existed. As of 2021, the only facilities that remain are located in Holbrook, Arizona, Cave City, Kentucky, and this one in San Bernardino/Rialto. The motel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. 

This property has 19 structures, which stand about 32 feet high and are designed in the motor court style, with parking right outside the door. Each is made of concrete and stucco. Despite the name, they don’t actually resemble wigwams, which are round, domed shelters used by a number of northeastern Native American tribes. The motel’s structures are modeled after tipis, tall conical tents that are traditionally used by Indigenous people of the Great Plains. They are a popular, and sometimes co-opted, symbol of Native identity.

The San Bernardino location has been restored and offers four room types. While it is a retro location, it does have many modern amenities such as wifi and electronic door locks. There is a motel office on site which is open 24 hours and a small, but well-maintained gift shop inside that offers a variety of Wigwam Motel and Route 66 souvenirs. There is also a swimming pool on the property.

The hotel is located near many restaurants and shops, as well as other Route 66 landmarks. 

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