Wigwam Village

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Wigwam Village in December 1951. Photograph by Charles W. Cushman. Courtesy Indiana University Archives
Wigwam Village in December 1951. Photograph by Charles W. Cushman. Courtesy Indiana University Archives

The Wigwam Village was a tourist court which opened on Bessemer Super Highway (U. S. Highway 11) about 4 miles South of Bessemer in 1941. It was the fifth in a chain of seven such tourist courts developed by Frank Redford of Horse Cave, Kentucky. Bessemer's wigwam village was operated by J. W. Davidson, and later by Mr & Mrs Willis Staton.

Redford built his first teepee-shaped restaurant in Horse Cave in the early 1930s and added 15 smaller guest-cabins in a horseshoe around it in 1933. He patented his "wigwam village" concept in 1936 and built a second one in Cave City, Kentucky a year later. He then sold the blueprint to other operators. The third development was in New Orleans, Louisiana and the fourth, a larger version with 31 teepees, was constructed in Orlando, Florida.

Birmingham's Wigwam Village #5 opened in 1941. Later villages were opened in Holbrook, Arizona; Rialto, California. As part of the franchise agreement a coin-operated radio was installed in each room, with Redford collecting the coins as his commission.

The "village" consisted of a grouping of concrete "teepees", approximately 25' in diameter at the base. A larger teepee at the center served as a guest-registration office and cafe. The rooms were insulated and featured Native American themed hickory furniture and decor and complete baths. The exteriors were coated in aluminum paint with red zig-zag graphics. The cafe menu was printed on teepee-shaped paper. It featured all-day breakfast specials ranging from 35¢ to 50¢ and dinner specials from 40¢ to $1.10.

The wigwam village closed in 1964 and the site was razed around 1970.

[edit] References

  • Bryant, Walter (April 24, 2007) "Motel memories." Birmingham News

[edit] External links

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