"The Painted Desert Inn was built in 1924 on a high perch overlooking the Painted Desert by a man named Herbert Lore in 1924. The two-story inn, nicknamed named the Stone Tree House, due to the petrified wood used in its construction, was operated as an inn and tourist attraction for almost twelve years. Meals were served in the lunchroom, Native American arts and crafts could be purchased in the curio shops, and a cool drink could be enjoyed in the downstairs taproom. Rooms were available for $2 to $4 a night. Lore also gave 2-hour motor car tours through the Black Forest in the Painted Desert below.
This isolated oasis in the Painted Desert was purchased by the Petrified Forest National Monument in 1936 and began updating its electrical, plumbing, and heating systems. Guest rooms, a new entryway, a dining room and a shaded porch were added to the original structure, as well as stained glass ceiling panels, hammered tin chandeliers, and hand-carved furniture.
During the Dust Bowl days, thousands of heartland residents fled west on Route 66 in search of a better life. Hollywood documented the era in The Grapes of Wrath, which included scenes at the Painted Desert Inn.
During World War II, the Inn was closed, but reopened after the war was over. Shortly thereafter, the Fred Harvey Company took over the management in 1947. In no time, the legendary Harvey Girls complimented the Inn with their excellent service in the spotless dining room.
A year later, the company’s architect and interior designer, Mary Colter, oversaw the remodeling of the dining rooms, hiring Fred Kabotie to paint murals in two rooms that would reflect his Hopi heritage. In the same year, the Painted Desert Inn became the park's northern headquarters.
Following the war, Route 66 became busier than ever as people began to experience "vacations." For many, the Mother Road included a stop at the Petrified Forest, and a bite to eat or curio shopping at the Painted Desert Inn.
Unfortunately, after I-40 replaced Route 66, a new Painted Desert Headquarters was opened and the Painted Desert Inn was closed. Already suffering from foundation problems, the building sat abandoned for the next 27 years. Only open for periodic events, deterioration continued to occur and the building was nearly demolished in 1965 and again in 1975. However, in 1975, the Painted Desert Inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1987, it became a National Historic Landmark. The building was restored and is now open as a museum."
Route 66Petrified Forest National Park