Like their gasoline stations, the Whiting Brothers motels were targeted toward budget-minded travelers. I believe that the Whiting Brothers once owned 18 different motels during the years of operating their roadside lodging business and all but three were on Route 66, although one of these was just a mile north of the old road. Postcards, AAA Tour Books, and other paper documents exist that provide information about the motels.
Most of the old Whiting Brothers motels have been sold to new owners and continue to operate today under different names and signage. Some re-named motels appear to still be for nightly tourist rentals, some motels appear to be for more long-term renters, and a few are closed. Just three of the old motels (Barstow, Yucca, and San Fidel) have been razed. Interestingly the latter two locations of these three are where we can still see the original Whiting Brothers signs. Also look for original signage at the Continental Divide in New Mexico.
Here is my compilation of the Whiting Brothers motels from west to east (California to New Mexico). All of the pictures above the heading "Other Motels?" are images of postcards:
Barstow: This Whiting Brothers motel was a single story motel at 1841 West Main Street which was just west of the even-older Desert Lodge Motel (1701 West Main Street) on Route 66. (Now renamed the Motel 66, the owners of the Desert Lodge Motel began a major renovation in 2010 that slowly progressed through the years and that motel is open for business again.) A Whiting Brothers gasoline station shared the site with the motel. Notice the gas signboard - 33.9 cents per gallon - at the far left of the picture. The Whiting Brothers motel and gas station were razed and replaced by a Holiday Inn Express which was re-branded Sleep Inn and later Baymont (1861 West Main Street).
By the way, a beautiful commemorative photographic postcard published by Jerry McClanahan (AT-110) in 1994 shows the front of a classic yellow 1950s Ford sedan posed at this very Whiting Brothers gasoline station and motel.
Yucca: Route 66 came to Yucca in late 1952 when Oatman and the Black Mountains of northwest Arizona were bypassed in favor of the gentle lower elevation route that followed the Santa Fe Railway between Kingman and Topock. The Whiting Brothers motel was a single story motel with the only swimming pool in town and a gasoline station shared the site. I'm not sure when it closed but it did operate until at least 1989. When I was there in 1996 the motel and gasoline station were abandoned and some squatters were occupying one of the rooms. When I visited the next year both the motel and gas station buildings had been completely razed. Visiting the site is simple since as of June 2015 most of the Whiting Brothers signs were still standing. Leave Interstate 40 at the northern Yucca exit called Proving Ground Rd. and go east to the frontage road that heads south to the Whiting Brothers motel and gas station site. Immediately to the south of the Whiting Brothers site is the abandoned Joshua motel and café.
Kingman: One of three Whiting Brothers motels not exactly on Route 66, this small mostly-one story motel was built as the Sahuaro Motel in the early 1960s and it was renamed the Outpost Motel in about 1967. (A small two story section is not visible in the postcard image.) The Whiting Brothers had been operating a gasoline station at 1246 West Beale since the late 1950s and bought the adjacent Outpost Motel in 1970. Renamed the Whiting Brothers Motel as pictured here, they ran it for about 16 years before selling it in 1986. It operated as the Frontier Motel until 2010 when it was renamed the Economy Inn. The motel now has a street address of 1250 West Beale Street which is actually US Highway 93 but it is less than a mile north of the US 66/93 junction so it almost counts as "66". The early Whiting Brothers gasoline station seen in the distance in this postcard was razed and replaced by a modern gasoline station which is operating there today.
The Williams motel operates today as the Arizona 9 Motor Hotel
Williams: This motel was originally built as Sutton's Hotel Cottages, later renamed Sutton's Courts, and was a single story motel on the south side of the major thoroughfare that was Bill Williams Avenue. Bill Williams Avenue originally was two- way Highway 66 but increasing traffic led planners to designate Railroad Avenue as westbound Route 66 and Bill Williams served as eastbound Route 66. The Whiting Brothers acquired the motel in the early 1960s, operated it for about thirty years, and then sold it in the early 1990s. It has been operating as the Arizona 9 Motor Hotel for most of this time with a street address of 315 West Route 66, just west of the famous Sultana. Sutton's gasoline station, which was rebranded as a Whiting Brothers gasoline station during this time, shared the site at the corner of Bill Williams Avenue (Route 66) and Fourth Street just to the right of this postcard image. The gas station office is actually attached to part of the motel structure but is no longer active.
The original one-story motel building in the rear is gone but the two-story portion of the motel is now the Rodeway Inn
Flagstaff: Built in the late 1930s, the Cactus Gardens Auto Court was initially on this site. (I think that it was the one-story structure seen in the rear of this postcard image.) The Whiting Brothers built a gasoline station to the west in about 1942 and both businesses shared a telephone. I believe that the two-story structure that reaches out to the roadside was built in the late 1960s at which time it was renamed the Whiting Brothers Motor Hotel and given an address of 2138 E. Santa Fe Avenue. The gas station was closed in the late 1980s (it is now the Enterprise Car Rental office at 2136 E. Santa Fe) and the motel was eventually sold in the early 1990s. Sometime between 1972 and 1993 the rear one-story motel units were razed and an AutoZone store (2138 E. Santa Fe) was built. The remaining two-story portion of the motel had been operating as the Royal Inn with an adjusted street address of 2140 E. Santa Fe. (I have seen references for the street address of this motel from various sources at various times as 2134, 2136, 2138, and 2140.) In late 2014 or early 2015 the motel was re-branded as Rodeway Inn.
Gray Mountain: Gray Mountain is southeast of the Grand Canyon National Park. This Whiting Brothers motel was on US Highway 89 forty miles north of Flagstaff and both Route 66 and Interstate 40. This motel is a one and two story motel on the east side of the road. It was closed by January 2005 and boarded up in June 2007. As of May 2014 it was still boarded up.
West Winslow: This motel was the very first Whiting Brothers motel but it was originally named the El Hopi Motel. A listing ad in the 1949 Winslow telephone directory actually states that it was "Operated by the Whiting Brothers". It was eventually re-named the Whiting Brothers Motor Hotel and a gasoline station shared the site. Very easy to overlook today, this small one story motel operated as the Suncrest Motel for long-term local rentals at the corner of 2nd Street and Alfred on the south side of eastbound Route 66 for many years but is closed now. The Whiting Brothers gas station just to the east is now an vehicle repair business. Vehicles waiting for repair, restoration or scrapping are tightly parked on the available pavement around the old gas station and in the old motel parking area.
Winslow: According to the builder's family, a 16-unit motel, originally named the 66 Motor Court, was built for Mr. Adam Mace in the 1940s by Mr. Lee Elzey who owned an adjacent tire shop. Mr. Mace encountered some financial issues so Mr. Elzey became a partner in the enterprise. But by 1949 Mr. Elzey had acquired full ownership and re-named it the LZ Motor Court (get it?). The tire shop was converted into a manager's residence. With increased traffic Route 66 was divided onto one-way 2nd and 3rd Streets and the LZ Motel was expanded with 5 more units out to 3rd Street. After the Elzeys sold the motel in the 1960s the name was kept and 7 more units were added. The Whiting Brothers acquired the motel in 1969 and operated it for at least another decade. The motel was sold in the early 1980s to someone not related to the Elzey family (it may have since passed through multiple owners) but the early name ("LZ Budget Motel") was basically restored. The motel, located at 1102 E. 2nd Street today, operated for another twenty years principally for long-term rentals but it closed in 2007.
Holbrook (Hopi Drive #1): This motel, located at 902 West Hopi Drive, was the first Whiting Brothers motel in Holbrook. It was built as a one story U-shaped motel just west of the Whiting Brothers service station, garage, and company offices. A two story building was added to the rear and to the west at which time the motel then occupied the entire block between 8th and 9th Streets. (The old postcard on the right shows a narrow gap in the middle of the back row of rooms which became a driveway when the motel was expanded.) A swimming pool was added to the front. (Hover over the picture for two more views of the modern, expanded version of this old motel.) Albert and Helen Frycek were the long-time managers for the Whiting Brothers. The Whiting Brothers sold it in about 1960 and it operated as the Sun 'N' Sand Motel until 2001 when it closed and stood empty through 2010. The one-story buildings were refurbished and the re-opened motel is now called the Globetrotter Lodge. The two story building of rooms in the rear of the property are separated from the motel with a fence and are unnamed apartments.
Holbrook (Hopi Drive #2): The Sea Shell Motel was built as a one-story motel. A second story was later added to the rear building. (Hover over the picture to see the two story Sea Shell Motel.) The Sea Shell Motel was once AAA and Duncan Hines approved and was a member of Best Western motels. It was part of a regional chain called Sentry Motels. I think that the Whiting Brothers acquired this second Hopi Drive motel at the time they sold the first motel (see above) since I have not found any reference showing both motels being actively managed by the Whiting Brothers at the same time. Notice that the thrifty Whiting Brothers kept the keystone part of the main sign that said "Motor Hotel" and repainted it, and added the WB shield to the top. It is at 612 West Hopi Drive just two blocks east and across the street from the famous Wigwam Motel. This motel operated as the Golden Inn for many years but it was renamed the Economy Inn in 2008.
The Holbrook motel on Navajo Blvd operates today as the Sahara Inn
Holbrook (Navajo Blvd.): This motel was once referred to as the Whiting Brothers East Highway 66 motel to distinguish it from the other Holbrook motel on Hopi Drive. This two story motel on the southeastern side of old Route 66 at 2402 Navajo Blvd. has a distinctive sawtooth-like gable roof. Note that this gable roof design is quite similar to the design of the two-story portion of the Flagstaff motel right down to the sawtoothed entry canopy. This Holbrook motel has been operating as the Sahara Inn for many years.
Springerville: To my knowledge this Whiting Brothers motel was the farthest motel from either Route 66 or Interstate 40. Springerville is along the northern edge of the White Mountains about 80 miles southeast of Holbrook, Arizona, and 30 miles south of St. Johns, Arizona. (St. Johns is where the Whiting Brothers first began pumping gasoline for motorists in 1917.) This postcard is a long double-view postcard (3˝" wide and 8˝" high) that has both an exterior view and an interior room view (scroll over). Today this motel is operating as Americas Best Value Inn at 136 West Main Street, which is US Highway 60 in Springerville.
Gallup: The two story design of this motel suggests that it was one of the more modern Whiting Brothers motels. I think it was newly built by them in 1976. This motel now operates as the Budget Inn at 3150 West Highway 66 in Gallup. The Budget Inn actually earned AAA approval as recently as ten years ago.
The Continental Divide motel is still open for business
Continental Divide: This Whiting Brothers motel stands along the north frontage road (old Route 66) off Interstate 40 at the Continental Divide (exit 47). It is easily visible from the freeway. The overhanging portions of the gable roof eaves seen on this postcard were removed sometime prior to 2005 which is when I first noticed that was the case. The motel consists of five gabled modules. The module in the middle with the extended canopy has a smaller gable and is the motel office. It is flanked by two larger gable modules on either side and each module has two rooms in it, making only eight units in this small motel. Additional structure, which appears to be residential, has been added to the rear of this motel. The tall Whiting Brothers sign still stands. A signboard out front declares this to be the Top of the World Motel and rooms are $25.99 per night (2015). Several rooms in the motel were occupied as of June 2015. A Whiting Brothers gasoline station, which has been occasionally used in the past by small businesses, is just to the west (left) of this postcard image.
The San Fidel motel was razed in the 1990s
San Fidel: This Whiting Brothers motel was on Route 66 west of the village of San Fidel and east and closer to the crossroads of McCartys. The complex included not only the motel but also a gasoline station and a small grocery store to the west, the latter built around an older structure called the Chief's Rancho Café mentioned in Jack Rittenhouse's 1946 A Guide Book to Highway 66. (Read more about the Chief's Rancho in Route 66: Romance of the West by Thomas Repp.) Apparently the owner of this old motel intentionally burned it down in the mid-1990s to eliminate what he perceived to be a transient problem. Most of the ruins were subsequently demolished. The Whiting Brothers signs remain as does the immediate front part of the original gas station structure, which was just to the left of this postcard image. Today old Route 66 is the north frontage road (New Mexico state highway 124) and this site is visible from Interstate 40. It can also be reached from either the San Fidel (exit 100) or McCartys (exit 96) interchanges from Interstate 40.
The Albuquerque motel is operating as the Americana Motel. The rooms in the right foreground have been razed
Albuquerque: The Whiting Brothers originally operated just a gasoline station at this Central Avenue location at the far western edge of the city. They built this motel in about 1970 and both businesses shared the same site. The motel was sold in about 1978 and now operates as the Americana Motel at 5908 S.W. Central Avenue. The part of the motel in the right foreground of the picture has been razed so the appearance of this motel today is different than this postcard image. The gas station, which if visible in this postcard image, would have been off to the right (west) of the motel, has been razed. But as of June 2015 the gas station foundation remains and the Whiting Brothers gas station sign still stands and is/was recognizable although it was covered in white paint.
The Santa Rosa motel is now the Sunset Motel
Santa Rosa: This one and two story motel is now operating as the Sunset Motel on the north side of old Route 66 at 929 Will Rogers Drive about one block east of popular Joseph's. (Joseph's, formerly known as the La Fiesta Café through the late commissioned Route 66 era, acquired the iconic "Fat Man" image from the famous but now razed Club Café.) The Sunset Motel appears to be mostly for long-term rentals now.
The Tucumcari motel is now the Americana Motel
Tucumcari: The State Motor Lodge was a U-shaped single-story auto court built in the style of paired rooms separated by double covered carports. It was renamed the Desert Air Motel by the owners at the time, Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Crotty. The motel was eventually purchased by the Whiting Brothers to become their Tucumcari motel. This motel added to the lodging availability for the town which once proclaimed "Tucumcari Tonite! 2000 Motel Rooms" on billboards east and west of the city. All but one of the carport areas have since been enclosed to make more guest rooms or storage rooms. This motel, which still has some very nice neon signage installed within the very same artistically-shaped sign board seen in this postcard image, operates today as the Americana Motel at 406 E. Route 66 Blvd., formerly Tucumcari Blvd.
Whiting Brothers Bellemont 1992
Whiting Brothers Bellemont 2006
Bellemont, Arizona: Between Flagstaff and Williams, Bellemont was the highest town on Route 66 at 7130 feet above sea level. Some guidebooks cite Whiting Brothers "cabins" adjacent to their gasoline station in Bellemont. The story goes that wood from powder boxes acquired from the nearby Navajo Army Depot was used to frame the cabins. The wood cabins were covered in stucco. The black and white photograph on the right from the Cline Library shows the Whiting Brothers gas station and cabins in operation in 1962. The business would probably exist for only one more year.
The color photograph to the right was taken in 1992 and it shows the long-abandoned gas station and cabins. When I visited the site in the mid-1990s the gas station and cabins were barely intact but within a couple of years they had been knocked over. The debris remained on the ground for about one more year and then the largest chunks were removed, leaving small pieces of stucco and torn and twisted chicken wire. The little cabins appeared to me to be pretty primitive accommodations even by the standards of sixty years ago or so. My guess is that the local gas station manager may have built these simple rooms for travelers who were snow-bound or waiting for car repairs. I am fairly certain that the Whiting Brothers never promoted these units as traveler accomodations.
A 1985 planning report on the Bellemont region published by Coconino County, Arizona, comments upon the old Whiting Brothers gasoline station and cabins but even the authors do not know when the establishment was abandoned. The report suggests that the "Use of these facilities may have been terminated when the Interstate 40 bypass was constructed and Old Route 66 was abandoned as the major east-west thoroughfare". Interstate 40 was completed through the area in 1963.
To get close to the Whiting Brothers site leave Interstate 40 at the Bellemont exit 185 and head south of the Interstate and turn left onto East Bellemont Road (old Route 66) so you are going east. There is a Harley Davidson dealer about a half-mile down the road with a neat old Santa Fe Railway caboose out in front. The Whiting Brothers site is a little more than another half-mile beyond it on the north side. For many years, and through the time that I was there in June 2007, all that was left was some debris from the main building and the cabins, the concrete island where the pumps once stood, and one of the metal frames that reached up to support what was once the canopy and the red and yellow Whiting Bros. sign. (See my photograph at the lower right which was taken looking north from old Route 66. The green and white Bellemont exit sign facing westbound Interstate 40 is in the background.) However by January 2008 the site was totally cleaned up and by 2010 there were two new large businesses along the road (Camping World RV Sales and Route 66 Storage) so the remains of this Whiting Brothers station are now lost to history. I believe that the location of the gas station is at or just east of the main driveway into the storage facility since the gas station was on ground nearly level with the roadway. (Most of the ground north of old Highway 66 is actually several feet below the road grade in this area.) Don't miss the famous Pine Breeze Inn along with several of the cabins behind it about one-third mile farther down the same road also on the north side.
Amarillo, Texas: Most of the Whiting Brothers motel postcards from the 1960s to the 1980s list the locations of other motels on their back sides, a common cross-promotional feature. My only clue that the Whiting Brothers ever had a motel in Amarillo is on the back of my postcard for the Albuquerque motel and on the back of a postcard from one Winslow motel. None of my other Whiting Brothers motel postcards or matchbook covers mentions an Amarillo location. Does anyone know about this motel or if it really existed? Contact me if you have any information.