Route 66 in the News

Motel Gets Makeover

2012-06-07 17:27:35

KINGMAN, Ariz. - Route 66 is a long way from its glory years of the 1940s and '50s.

Classic cars, colorful motels and even Hollywood celebrities took up residence in the small towns that lined the highway.

Yet some of the Americana charm still remains.

The glowing neon of the El Trovatore Motel hangs over the historic highway, illuminated for late-night travelers looking for a place to stay the night.

Built in 1939, this classic Route 66 relic was said to have once housed Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Clark Gable. It was considered a luxury property, with air-conditioning. The room rate was $3.50 per night. Some of the Art Deco tile remains in some of the bathrooms.

About a year ago, the lights of El Trovatore weren't expected to shine anymore.

Owner Sam Frisher didn't believe it would be possible to keep the El Trovatore.

"I went to my bank and told them that the loan is too high. I took the key and put it on the desk," Frisher said. "I said, 'You can foreclose on me. I can't (pay) it anymore.' "

Frisher and his wife, Monica, then sent their renovation proposals to their bank, which they said is the reason they were able to get the loan they needed.

They were allowed to refinance the El Trovatore at a much lower interest rate and also received a $150,000 loan to remodel the old motel.

They decided to use the money to revamp their neon signs, fill the parking lot with classic cars and create themed rooms honoring 1950s-60s celebrities, such as Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and John Wayne, to foster Route 66 nostalgia.

"What we wanted to do here was create an atmosphere of the stars," Sam Frisher said. "We're going to make this place come alive."

Monica Frisher, a Hollywood native and classic movie fan, came up with idea for the rooms. It seemed like an easy choice.

"This is sort of our way of keeping all these classic icons alive in the memories of the younger generation," she said.

She said the summer months will be important to the motel's success. Remodeling continues, but the motel is still open and taking reservations.

Sam Frisher believes this project will spark a revival effort on Route 66, something much needed for the towns along the way.

"It's something the United States should be proud of having," he said.

~Blake Wilson,


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