People joke about us being homeless, living our carefree Vagabond Life with no ties, but really, we have a few properties we call “home,” in part why this lifestyle works so well for us. We have our weekend home in Yucca Valley, a hobby shop in Orange where we keep motorcycles and clothes, and two commercial properties in Winslow, Arizona, both built in the 1890s. The 66 Motor Palace, one of those commercial properties, is where this latest episode of our vagabond adventure takes us.
The 66 Motor Palace
Many of you are familiar with our Winslow Arizona preservation project, but with our vagabonding, I figured it was a good time to go back and take a look at how this came to be.
In 2007, Brian rode through Winslow Arizona on his way to Nashville to deliver a motorcycle. He’d read about the La Posada Hotel— a restored Harvey House—and decided to stay. I remember his phone call home, telling me I wouldn’t believe how cool the hotel was (I didn’t believe him… until a couple years later when I saw for myself). The town, in general, struck a chord with him, and in 2010, he wanted to go back to Winslow and stay at the La Posada for his birthday.
FEBRUARY 18, 2010
He also wanted to look at some properties. Allan Affedlt, the man behind bringing the La Posada back to life, showed us around town and took us through a few buildings for sale. While upstairs in the apartment over the theater, my gaze kept drifting to the freestanding building across the street, painted a dark red, with big glass block windows.
View from the Apartment Window – 2010
We asked Allan what the deal was with the building, so he made a call to the owners—a California couple–and got permission to take us inside. When he pulled back the insulation from the framing to reveal the beautiful brick and remnants of plaster underneath, we knew we’d found our place.
A month later, we became the owners of the 66 Motor Palace.
Brian wrote a terrific Legend of the Motor Palace. I’ll put a link at the end.
The Motor Palace first opened as a Suititotium in 1892. Over the years, it operated in several capacities–a barbershop, a “peace of mind store,” even a Kawasaki motorcycle shop, but it is best known as being a pool hall. Rumor is the city shut it down sometime in the 80s. The building sat empty until we bought it from the LA couple who had gutted the interior (thank you!!) in preparation to drywall and finish out. Their plan was to use the space either as a gallery or soundstage. Much of the work they did, we undid, since we wanted the raw bones of the building to show.
Sadly, we have never found a front photo of our building in any archives or books, but we did find this early photo from the back, seen in the photo center with the distinctive, stepped down roof line.
From the early 1900s
The Motor Palace sits diagonally from the famous corner, you know the one I’m talking about…
“Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see… it’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me…”
If you’re ever passing through town, you have to stop and take your picture with the statue, just as thousands of people do while traveling Route 66.
Over the Years
Sometimes I feel as if we haven’t made much progress in the eight years we’ve owned the place, but then I go back and look at photos and realize all that we’ve done. Getting plumbing and electric in the shell of a building was huge, as was cleaning up all of the construction mess.
The biggest change came with finishing the mudroom, which had dirt floors and no light other than what filtered through the cracked walls. The space is now a lovely little apartment.
The framing and insulation is all down, revealing those beautiful walls that sold us on the building in the first place.
Before: From maybe 2014-ish
The north wall hole now has a glass roll-up door, although the wood is still on the outside until we get a protective outer door as well.
The front of the building has been painted, bringing out all the great textures.
I may be biased, but I think it’s the prettiest building in town. Thanks, Nick, for your stellar work.
It’s also impressive to see what the city has done to beautify the downtown. The corner went through a great transformation the year we bought.
The street trees, park benches, and overall tidying up of Winslow made a huge difference. We truly love this town, and look forward to every visit.
Brian and I generally spend our Anniversary at the Motor Palace. This year—for our big 20th—we figured we’d spend a couple of days in Winslow and then hit the road for an exploration adventure, somewhere, to celebrate our twenty-years married in classic vagabond style, with no agenda, no plan.
Wedding Day: 1998
Once we got to the Motor Palace, though, we didn’t want to leave, so we spent the entire week there. That happens a lot.
We had a great anniversary, with dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Brown Mug, and Brian surprised me with the best present. Several years ago, I lost my wedding ring, so started wearing a hose clamp–yes, I’m talking the 1.29 hardware store item. I had no desire to replace the hose clamp with anything else. It fit my personality. Clearly, Brian agreed, because instead of “going to Jarrod’s” he grabbed a Made-in-USA hose clamp, polished it up, and had a jeweler add a beautiful, clear, sparkling diamond to the screw head.
Pretty cool, right? I love it.
Even though the Motor Palace has come a long way, it still has a long way to go. Someday we’ll have a real kitchen. We’ll get the bricks tuck-pointed (in-progress, thanks to Curtis Hardy), and the walls sealed. We’ll clean the years of dirt from the concrete floors. Finish out the doors. And then we’ll figure out what to do with the place. Our plans constantly evolve, especially now that we bought the second building, The Palace Emporium.
And there it is. Our favorite Vagabond location.
Before you go…
Check out this rave review from our pal, Ron, who recently stayed at the Motor Palace during one of his many adventures. There’s some salty language, in case you have sensitive ears.
Until next week, from one of regular vagabond stops in Fullerton…
- As promised, Brian’s Legend of the Motor Palace. Grab a cup a joe, sit back and enjoy the tale.
- The 66 Motor Palace website. Since buying the building, Brian chronicled our adventures, but after The Great Website Crash of 2017, he lost nearly everything. The website is gradually coming back to life.
- The La Posada Hotel. It’s worth a special trip to Winslow to see.
- The Palace Emporium. Our work-in-progress mercantile.