Cover image courtesy The Usonian Inn
According to our good friend Jim Seelen over at the Society for Commercial Archaeology’s webpage, the most popular motel name in his motel image collection is Western after which comes Sands, Sunset, El Rancho, Colonial, Bel Air (or Bel Aire), Thunderbird, Capri, Frontier, and Crest.
However, we have to say that, after researching the motel we’re highlighting today – we thought Rest Haven had to be right up there somewhere in the top ten seeing how there seemed to be so many of them.
The Wright Stuff
The Usonian Inn got its start as a Rest Haven Motel when Mr. and Mrs. John Michels saw a need there in their little part of Wisconsin to cater to the increase in roadtrippers and family vacationers after World War II. What’s more, however, the Michels also happened to be good friends with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright whose 37,000-square-foot home, studio, school, and 800-acre estate known as Taliesin was also located in Spring Green just across the Wisconsin River from their own house. As a result, the Michels commissioned one of Wright’s students, Jesse C. Caraway, to design their roadside accommodations.
As a student and apprentice at Taliesin, Caraway subscribed to Wrights Usonian school of thought. “Usonian” is a word coined by Wright to describe the people and other things in the United States that are typically referred to as being “American”. However, Wright also applied the word to his concept of “New World” architecture, which he believed should be “architecture for everyone” that incorporates readily available materials and simple design and construction in harmony with its surrounding natural environment. As a result, Caraway borrowed heavily from Wright’s Usonian residential design theories when he designed the motel in 1948.
Construction on building finished in 1952 and opened as the Rest Haven Motel that same year. It would be the first highway lodging along the 120 mile stretch of US 14 between Madison and LaCrosse, Wisconsin back when the highway ran from Chicago, Illinois, to the entrance of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
The Usonian Legacy Continues
In 1992, ownership of the motel changed hands, and under the guidance of James Pfefferkorn – another of Wright’s apostles – the building was renovated and renamed the Usonian Inn in homage the style adopted by Caraway 40 years before.
Today the Usonian Inn preserves its namesake style and commitment to not only blending in as part of its natural surroundings, but also of maintaining its environmental, social and economic sustainability.
However, going green doesn’t mean that guests have to give up 21st century amenities. Each of their 11 rooms include Free WI-FI, TV, AC/Heating units, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, dining table and chairs, reading chair or recliner, private entrance and private bath. And of course, their comfy king and queen-sized beds ensure a good night’s rest for whatever adventures await you in the morning.
And speaking of adventures, the Usonian Inn is hidden away in an idyllic setting, and is a great place to relax after a day behind the wheel road tripping through the Wisconsin River Valley. Stroll the yard, relax outside your room, or enjoy the many restaurants and one-of-a kind shops within walking distance of the inn.
If you’re planning on spending a couple of days in the area, be sure to check out all of the great nearby attractions, too. Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Museum where his Usonian teachings inspired our motel design. Go hiking in our nearby state parks or spend the day lazing by the nearby Wisconsin River.
For more information on how you can have a relaxing stay at the world’s only Usonian motel, visit their website here or call them at 608-588-2323.
Whether your leaf-peeping your way through Wisconsin, or doing a little apple cider shopping in the Shenandoah Valley, be sure you take some Stuckey’s along with you no matter where you go.
From our world-famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll and mouthwatering pecan pralines to our savory flavored Front Porch Pecans and our salty-sweet Hunkey Dorey, we have all of your favorite road trip snacks to help get you where you’re going. Get all your road trip treats today, only from stuckeys.com.
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
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Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!