The Hilltop Motel on Route 66 in Kingman recently earned a much-coveted Route 66 Cost-Share Preservation Grant from the National Park Service – the only such grant awarded in Arizona this year.
“The Hilltop Motel is an excellent example of the motel experience that was common during the post-war, family vacation boom,” according to a press release from the National Park Service.
Motel owner Dennis Schroeder said he is very happy to get the $20,000 grant, and he will have to come up with a matching $21,478 before the National Park Service will release the funds.
“It’s really a great program,” he said. “It’s funded 114 or 115 projects on Route 66 – everything from oral histories to historic buildings.”
The money from the grant will replace the heating and cooling units in 14 of the 28 rooms at the historic motel, Schroeder said.
The original units were installed when the motel was built in 1954 and were incredibly inefficient, he said.
“The air conditioning units had three levels – on, off and fan,” he said.
“You would turn it on and in a few minutes, you would be freezing. You’d turn it off, and a few minutes later you were sweating.”
The gas heating system was the same way, Schroeder said. Most of the units were replaced in the 1980s, but those systems are now in need of replacement.
He hopes to start work in October.
The hotel has seen a lot of history in its nearly 60 years of existence.
It was originally built with 20 rooms. Over the years, another eight rooms, an innkeeper’s quarters and a pool were added.
More recently, cable TV and then satellite TV was installed.
The motel also has had a few interesting visitors, including the band Cosby, Stills and Nash – who were unable to stay at the motel because there were no open rooms. However, they did get a chance at a shower in one of the rooms.
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is probably the most notorious guest.
He stayed at the motel for four days in mid-February 1995. The federal government confiscated his registration card as evidence.
The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program focuses on business on or near the historic highway that were built between 1926 and 1970. It targets motels, gas stations, cafes, road segments and landscapes. The target of the grant must be within view or directly on Route 66 and must be in its original location.
The grants are awarded on an annual basis. All grant winners have to come up with matching funds.
Since 2001, 114 projects have been awarded $1.6 million in grant funds and $2.7 million in matching funds have been raised to preserve some of the Mother Road’s historic landmarks.
This is the third time that a Kingman business has gotten a grant from the program.
The first Kingman business to receive grant funding was the owner of the Old Trails Garage on Andy Devine Avenue, next to the Brunswick Hotel. A $10,000 grant with $10,000 in matching funds helped repair the roof on the building.
The second grant recipient was the Route 66 Motel on Andy Devine Avenue in 2011. A $10,319 grant with matching funds helped restore the historic sign that was featured in a 1997 issue of National Geographic, as well as repairs to the roof.
Other well-known Arizona landmarks that have gotten grant funds from the Route 66 Preservation Grant fund include the gas station in downtown Peach Springs, the Frontier Motel sign in Truxton and the Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook.
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa – Daily Miner