Just past the tractor dealership, but before you reach the city limits sign of Wharton, TX, 10 sand colored, concrete teepees stand in neat line near the highway. The Teepee Motel is a piece of Americana history that was built in 1942, when road tripping was in high fashion and roadside businesses used gimmicky architecture to attract travelers. As highways and cars picked up speed, travel became much more about the destination rather than the journey, and these roadside attractions became a forgotten piece of the past.
The Teepee Motel was little more than 10 concrete shells choked out by decades of weeds and overgrowth when it was spotted by Byron and Barbara Woods. Barbara had a dream of staying in one of the Wigwam Motels that were popular along Route 66 since she was a child, but instead of simply staying for one night, the Woods dreamed a little bigger. As recent Texas lottery winners, they had the bankroll to purchase and renovate the Teepee Motel into a modern hotel that once again beckons travelers off the road with its kitschy charm.
A Review of the Teepee Motel in Wharton, TX
Staying at a Teepee (or Wigwam) Motel has long been on my list of quirky things to do, and with only four of these little gems left in operation, I’ve been eyeing the one in Wharton for some time. The Mister does not share my
obsession affinity for the roadside weird, so I had to play the “it’s my birthday and I’ll sleep where I want to” card to book a night in the teepee. Happy Birthday to me!
One opinion that the Mister and I secretly shared was the fear that the motel would be less than ideal in the cleanliness department. I thought we might see a few cobwebs or cracks in the wall, while he thought we might need a UV light before we climb in bed. It turns out we were both wrong. The accommodations, including a full sized bed and futon were modest, but everything was very clean. A mini-fridge, microwave, WIFI, and cable-amenities that would have been space age imaginings when the Teepees first opened-were also included. A grill and picnic table outside each teepee created a glamping sort of atmosphere. I could easily imagine families grilling out and running around the teepees, much like they would have done in the heyday of the motel.
Since we weren’t expecting a five star hotel, we were more than happy with the motel quality stay and pleased with the modest motel quality pricing. It was certainly worth what we would have paid for a generic motel stay to mark another peculiar item off my bucket list and have my own little piece of roadside history.