Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba Missouri

The Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba Missouri is both one of the oldest historic motels along Route 66, and of them the only one to have been continuously operating since its opening. From the outside is actually pretty idyllic. It is built in the Tudor Revival style out of Ozark sandstone. It opened initially as a cafe and filling station in 1936, and then expanded into a motel in 1938; and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The motel consists of a collection of very cute looking homes with stone exteriors, that sits behind a larger main house

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In front of which are some historic gas pumps (but gas is no longer sold here.

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When I arrived, the main building was undergoing some regular maintenance/cosmetic upkeep repairs, which is in keeping with the whole “Viva Cuba” project that I discussed in my recent post about the town of Cuba itself. Inside the main building was a check in counter, and an unusually large gift store — taking up the area that I’m guessing originally housed the cafe.

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The Motel was apparently fully renovated in 2010, but looking on-line I found some very mixed reviews… A lot of folks love the place, but those who didn’t were vitriolic, saying that it is one of those motels that looks a hell of a lot better on the outside than supposedly it looks on the inside. But like I said, MIXED reviews, and I haven’t stayed here so I can’t comment personally.

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I asked the woman who seemed to be the owner “are you renovating the interiors too or just the exteriors?”, and she said “yes, you can go inside and shop” ….  On the upside, the gift store was selling route 66 T-shirts that were specific to the location, rather than the generic crap that has annoyed me for most of the my route 66 Trek

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Cuba Missouri, The Mural City of Route 66

Cuba Missouri is yet another small town that has discovered the economic value of public art. It is the largest city in its county, with a population smaller than my high school had when I graduated, and yet it’s on every “MUST SEE” list for travelers traversing Route 66.

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A local bank funded the “Viva Cuba Project” in 1984 because while trying to lure potential investors into the town, that they were being turned off by the high percentage of eyesores… and realized that a city beautification project was needed in order to spur economic growth. This initially involved businesses investing in beautifying their business and the city investing in trees and shrubs and various landscaping projects. So for instance check out this incredibly cute cafe, The Fourway (Kabobs, salads and fresh foods) in what has to be the cutest re-use of a historic gas station that I’ve seen so far.

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I can’t review it as a restaurant’s food as I didn’t eat here, but I was tempted, SO CUTE

IMG_0660The Mural phase of the city’s beautification project began in 2001 and was completed in 2007. It was the Missouri legislature which designated the city the Mural city or Route 66… which I think a lot of the other small towns on 66 in other states, that have also gone this route, may take issue with.

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I noticed however that the murals, for the most part, face east…. so the artist is assuming that most visitors who are traveling Route 66 are headed west.

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Betty Davis Apparently visited the town once, and this mural honors that visit

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