Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Barren County.  October 16, 2001.  2:39 p.m. CDT.

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     Wigwam Village is an architectural oddity on the outskirts of Cave City, a little town that for decades has been the main jumping-off place to Mammoth Cave National Park, just about 15 miles away.  Cave City probably has more motels per square foot than any other town in Kentucky.  Especially in the old days--before Interstate highways--visitors to Mammoth Cave would stay a night or two at one of Cave City's many "motor courts".  The most famous of these were the two Wigwam Villages, one on each of the region's major US highways, 31W through Cave City, and 31E about five miles east.
     Wigwam Villages #1 and #2 were wonders of their time.  While they were being built during the 1930s, one of the Louisville newspapers sent a reporter down to record construction progress.  Other newspapers and magazines through the years ran stories about the Villages.  Eleanor Roosevelt passed by during one of her many journeys through America, and commented about Wigwam Village in her daily newspaper column, "My Day". Marion Post Wolcott, one of the Farm Security Administration documentary photographers of the 1930s and '40s, stopped in the summer of 1940 and photographed Village #2.
     The Wigwam Villages had a large central "wigwam", where the office and a restaurant were located. It had a full basement.  About a dozen smaller wigwams surrounded the main building.  The small wigwams were modern motel units, complete with baths.  All of the buildings were frame construction, covered with painted stucco.     Some time ago--25 years ago, I guess--Wigwam Village #1 on US 31E was destroyed.  But Village #2 in Cave City thrives to this day.  There no longer is a restaurant; the main building is used for the motel office and a gift shop that specializes in anything even remotely connected with Native Americans.  There also are the many old photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, etc., about the place itself.  You can still stay the night in one of the little wigwams, which are now air-conditioned and appear to be well kept.

Other photos
(click on the thumbnails)
The main wigwam was once a restaurant.  Today, it's the motel office and a gift shop.  
Here's a front view of wigwam unit #1, which is identical to the other units.  

In July 1940, Farm Security Administration (FSA)  photographer Marion Post Walcott shot some pictures of Wigwam Village #2.  This view shows the main wigwam and the sign out front.  This photo and more than a thousand others from the FSA photographic survey of Depression-era America can be seen on the Library of Congress American Memory website.
Posted February 1, 2002; revised February 20, 2006..