Properties such as the Brunswick Hotel and Beale Celebrations are more than mere investment opportunities. They are also more than places to open and business or express your entrepreneurial spirit. They are tangible links to another era. They bridge the chasm that divides the past from the present. Some historic buildings are like a foot bridge, others are akin to a glorious steel truss bridge spanning a roaring river framed by towering forest.
The Brunswick Hotel is the latter. At first glance it appears to be a cold stone edifice with the personality of a hammer. Look deeper and you will see that this is a true diamond in the rough. It is an almost pristine relic from the final years of the territorial era in Arizona. Peer through the windows, look at the ceiling and banister, look at the windows themselves as well as the stones. Now, dare to imagine.
The historic business district in Kingman is experiencing a rather dramatic renaissance. There are festivals and galleries, wine bars and microbreweries, venues for concerts and conferences. What is lacking are lodging opportunities in the immediate area. Imagine the Brunswick as a boutique hotel with restaurants and shops lining Route 66. The historic depot is almost directly across the street, and Amtrak flows from Chicago to Los Angeles and back again making twice daily stops.
The old hotel was never Kingman’s finest, that honor was reserved for the Hotel Beale. Still, it provided guests with modern amenities and as early as 1927 it was listed as AAA recommended property in the Hotel, Garage and Service Station Guide, a prestigious honor not awarded the Kingman Hotel or Commercial Hotel. And it has a fair bit of celebrity association. On July 16, 1915, the then 21-year old Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford stopped for the night after a long days drive from Williams. He and some college buddies were taking in the sights during a trip along the National Old Trails Highway on a trip from Michigan to California. Legendary rancher Tap Duncan was often seen at the bar. There was a small impromptu wedding reception at the hotel in March 1939 for newlywed Clark Gable and Carol Lombard.
The hotel closed in the 1950’s. Still the hotel remained a focal point for the city as El Mohave restaurant operated by the Otero family was a local favorite. It also served countless hungry travelers as they motored east and west along Route 66. Then came a period of abandonment, and an abbreviated attempt to revive the landmark. The refurbished restaurant proved popular but not economically viable. So, today it is a diamond in the rough awaiting an owner with passion, with vision, with business skills and a dream. With Kingman poised to become a vacation destination, the old hotel could easily again become a focal point in a thriving and bustling historic business district.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America