The Brunswick Hotel has stood as a silent sentinel to a flow of history in Kingman
for more than a century. A celebration took place at the hotel in February 1912 when Arizona made the transition from territory to state. Dating to 1951 the Beale Celebrations building is a relative newcomer in Kingman but it too has withstood decades of change that transformed what is now the historic business district.
The Brunswick Hotel was the city’s first three story building. Edsel spent the night of July 16, 1915 at the hotel during his westward jaunt along the National Old Trails Road. When Clark Gable and Carol Lombard married in March 1939, an impromptu reception was held in the hotel’s restaurant.
Construction of the J.C. Penny building, now Beale Celebrations, marked a rather dramatic turning point in Kingman history. Territorial era adobe homes were cleared from the corner of Fourth and Beale Streets to make way for the modern store that represented the dawn of a new, progressive modern community.
The Brunswick Hotel was listed as recommended lodging in the AAA hotel and garage directory published in 1927. Though it was dated and a bit wore at the heel, it continued to provide lodging into the 1950’s. During WWII, with a shortage of housing and lodging in the area resultant of construction of the Kingman Army Airfield, and in the influx of wives and families of servicemen stationed at the airfield, the hotel seldom had a vacant room.
The fade from prominence commenced in earnest in the late 1950’s after the buildings acquisition by Joe Otero. The prominent portico had been removed many years prior but Otero shuttered the hotel and expanded the restaurant and lounge into the former lobby. His restaurant, the El Mohave was popular with locals as well as travelers on Route 66. Purportedly Senator Barry Goldwater was a frequent guest during his campaign stops in northwest Arizona.
By the mid 1980’s a rather dramatic transition was sweeping through the city’s historic business district. The El Mohave had closed. The Beale Hotel that had been on a long slow downward spiral for decades closed shortly afterwards. J.C. Penny’s relocated to a new facility in the modern shopping plaza on Stockton Hill Road. Central Commercial that opened in 1917 closed, was reopened as a Babbit’s store, and then closed permanently. The Desert Drug, Frontier bar and restaurant, Kingman Club, and Dinty Moore’s closed. There were anemic efforts to stem the tide of abandonment, condemnation, neglect, and the razing of buildings. There was even a couple of valiant effort to bring new life to the Brunswick Hotel. It was all in vain, until 2014, the year that the city hosted the International Route 66 Festival.
That event served as a catalyst for a reawakening, the dawning of a renaissance that has, and is continuing to, transform the historic business district. The former J.C. Penny building that had served as city offices was transformed into an event center with Art Deco flourishes and neon. The Brunswick Hotel was readied for renovation. Now, with both buildings for sale, it is the dawn of a new era in Kingman.
Who will seize the opportunity? What new chapter will they write?
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America