by Jim Hinckley
Historical research is never boring. However, more often than not, in the process of finding the answer to the question you often end up with even more questions that beg for answers.
The latest manifestation of the Route 66 Association of Kingman (a Promote Kingman partner) initiative to restore facades and signage in the historic business district and along the Route 66 corridor through partnerships with property owners and Legacy Signs is the transformation of the circa 1914 Old Trails Garage. This building is located on Andy Devine Avenue next to the Brunswick Hotel between Third and Fourth Streets.
As the project began to move from concept and idea to reality, there were questions about what era to mimic, and even about the actual age of the garage. Enter Steve Rider, a prolific collector of National Old Trails Highway and early Route 66 photo post cards.
With his assistance it was determined that 1914 was most likely the date of construction. It was also learned that over the years the garage has had an affiliation with Studebaker, Packard, Cadillac, La Salle, Willys Overland, Jeep, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. Blending these early affiliations, and the addition of a beautiful 1930 Packard neon sign in the facade renovations has transformed the building.
It is quickly becoming a photo stop for legions of travelers, and a topic of discussion. As a result during the peak tourism season next year, April through October, this garage will most likely provide another reason for people to stop and to explore our historic business district.
While digging for answers to questions about the Old Trails Garage, questions arose about a stone building on Andy Devine Avenue, mid block between Second and Third Street. How old was this building? What was its original purpose? Who built it?
The latter question seemed the best place to start in the unraveling of this mystery. The windows and doors are trimmed in white quartz, a builders trademark that is found on several buildings in the area.
These include the 1929 Siesta Motel, the recently razed Bell Motel, 1946, the Assembly of God Church on Park and Fifth Streets, 1939, and the last remnants of the Richards Auto Court, now incorporated into the Prestige Auto Body complex on the corner of Fourth Street and Topeka.
Each of these buildings have the characteristic trademark. Each reflects a rough craftsman skill. Each used what ever materials were easiest to obtain, which resulted in some rather interesting touches. As an example, the facade of the Assembly of God church includes stones adorned with Native American petroglyphs!
Answers to the origins of the building on Andy Devine, or the contractor, have remained elusive. However, the quest continues and when answers are found they will be shared.
Will the discovery of answers lead to new questions?