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SEP-OCT 2016

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Page 68 of 77 67 S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 A R E O V E R T H E T O P istory has never gone out of fashion at numerous lodg- ings throughout the Grand Central region. Careful efforts to restore and main- tain unique motel and hotel properties is all the rage today, and overnight guests couldnít be more grateful for the opportunity to sleep in one of them. Whether your travelers are into safari huts, motor lodges or historic skyscrapers, there is a unique hotel in the Grand Central states to suit their taste. Cuba, Missouri The Wagon Wheel Motel, an Ozark sandstone motor court in the tiny town of Cuba, is an architectural gem from a bygone era. It still beckons weary travelers to pull off one of America's most celebrated highways for the night. The colorful and now-famous neon sign looks like something your grandparents would have seen on their travels. "The motel is 80 years old and one of the last properties that never closed along Route 66," said Connie Echols, owner of the Wagon Wheel Motel, Café and Station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When Echols bought the place in 2009, it had fallen deeply into disrepair with outdated and dangerous electrical wiring and plumbing and floors that were rotten. "The owners were still renting rooms for $11 a night. There was an older couple that had run it for 40 years," said Echols. The exterior stonework was still in good shape, and the roof, with four old layers of shingles, was still in reasonable condition. The rooms were modernized, and some were combined into suites. Echols said it might have been easier and cheaper to have knocked down the place and built it new. But she loves what it represents today. "It's the nostalgia and something different. Older people like this stuff," she said. "We get motorcoaches and car clubs. A Corvette club is coming in sum- mer for a Christmas in July celebration. We had one group from Indiana book the entire place." To many, the most inviting area of the Wagon Wheel is out front under the trees, where people gather in sitting areas on comfortable furniture. With the 90th anniversary of Route 66 this year, there should be even more visitors happily stopping at the old place. Bartlesville, Oklahoma This year marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of Price Tower, the impressive skyscraper of copper and concrete designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright as a corporate headquarters for an Oklahoma pipeline construction company. "The 19-story tower was created as a multipurpose building, and it is just a little bit different today," said Brittany Bush, the tower's hotel and restaurant manager. "Originally, it was office, retail and apartments. Today, instead of apartments, we have the inn. The tower is also home to Copper Bar and Restaurant." The Inn at Price Tower has 19 guest rooms, including three of the original apartments that have been turned into two-story suites. People from around the world flock there to see a piece of Wright's handiwork and to spend the night. That includes fans of architecture and museums and "the older crowd b y D a n D i c k s o n The Hotel at Old Town in Wichita offers both accommodations and local history.

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