Image: Stuckey’s Corp. / Stephanie Stuckey

What sounds like road trip fun more than “Sleep in a Wigwam”? On a 2020 road trip fulfilling her promise to visit every Stuckey’s location that was still standing, CEO Stephanie Stuckey would find out the answer to that question herself one night in June of that year. On her way down U.S. Route 31W, she saw a flashing neon sign that invited road-weary motorists to “Sleep in a Wigwam” and pulled into the parking lot of Wigwam Village #2 just outside of Cave City, KY. After walking into the big wigwam in the center of 15 smaller versions arranged in a semi-circle around it, Stephanie found herself sleeping in a wigwam for the night. 

Wigwams from Coast to Coast

Wigwam or Teepee? The buildings of the Wigwam Villages were actually modeled on the teepee – a conical-shaped Native American tent. A wigwam, on the other hand, is an oval-shaped, more permanent Native American dwelling with an arched frame that is covered with bark, hides, or mats.
Image: Stephanie Stuckey

As its name suggests, Wigwam Village #2 was the second in a chain of seven Wigwam Villages that would be built around the country by a man named Frank Redford. Redford had built his first Wigwam Village in 1933 on the corner of US Route 31E and KY 218 in Horse Cave, KY. Incidentally, he was inspired to build his first wigwam while visiting Long Beach, CA on a cross-country road trip. It was there that he saw a barbecue restaurant shaped and painted like a traditional tepee and the light bulb went off. He returned to Horse Cave and built the main wigwam as a museum/store to present and sell some of his Native American artifacts to tourists traveling to and from nearby Mammoth Cave. Later he would add gas pumps and six smaller teepee shaped guest cabins for travelers to sleep in.

After receiving a patent for the design of his wigwam rooms, he built Wigwam Village #2 about eight miles southeast of the original location on US Highway 31W.  Wigwam Village #2 consists of 15 wigwam guest rooms arranged in a semicircle around a much bigger concrete and steel wigwam that originally served as a restaurant.

 Wigwam Village #1 was sold shortly after the opening of Wigwam Village #2. However, over the years, other Wigwam Villages would go up in places like New Orleans, LA (1940), Bessemer, AL (1940), Orlando, FL (1948), Rialto/San Bernardino, CA (1949), and Holbrook, AZ (1950).  Today, only three of Wigwam Villages are still standing – Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, KY; Wigwam Village #6 in Holbrook, AZ; and Wigwam Village #7 in Rialto/San Bernardino, CA.

No Ice, But Still Pretty Nice

The cozy interior of Wigwam #2.
Image: Stephanie Stuckey

Each guest wigwam at Wigwam Village #2 is 32-feet tall and 14-feet in diameter at its base. Every unit also has a small bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower. Additionally, you’ll also find that the rooms contain the original restored hickory furniture and a window-mounted air conditioner. There are no telephones these days (but really in a world where literally everybody and their grandmother own a smartphone, who needs them?); you will find, however, there are the modern conveniences of cable TV and internet access for those smartphones. Though the lunch counter’s been closed since the 1970’s, you can still get a good retro feel going on by barbecuing on the cooking grills while the kid’s play on the old-school  playground. (However, while she was there, Stephanie found out the ice-machine was broken.)

Under New Management

“I slept in a Wigwam!”

In August 2020, Wigwam Village #2 was put up for sale when current owners Afzal and Masuda Rahim decided to retire. By May 2021, new owners Keith Stone and Megan Smith officially unveiled their refurbished “Sleep in a Wigwam” neon sign which was just the start of their commitment to restoring Wigwam Village #2’s original charm. This includes bringing back the lunch counter or maybe even a coffee shop to what they affectionately call the “Bigwam” – the main wigwam building that houses the office and gift shop today. (No word yet on the ice machine.)

Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of kitschy roadside attractions who’s always wondered what it’s like to “sleep outside of the box”, now’s your chance to sleep in a wigwam. Reservations can be made by calling 1-833-WIGWAMS or by booking a wigwam directly through their website.

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