CHAPTER 1 ...
“Auto Tourists” and Model T’s Hit the Open Road!
Established in 1929, the Motel Du Beau has been welcoming happy travelers for over 90 years.
The initial vision for the Du Beau materialized in the mid 1920’s when Albert Eugene Du Beau
(a hotelier of French Canadian descent), was vacationing in Northern Arizona. During his trip,
he observed a potential business opportunity in the Flagstaff area:
the necessity for overnight accommodation specifically catering to an evolving breed of
travelers -“Auto Tourists” en route to visit the Grand Canyon. After returning
home to California the young entrepreneur decided to act on his inkling, and along with wife
Clara, relocated to Flagstaff to embark on an exciting new venture; “Du Beau’s Motel Inn”!
Mr. Du Beau’s timing was ideal. The United States highway system was rapidly developing and
the introduction of “closed” automobiles initiated a newfound freedom to travel further
distances more comfortably. The lure of the open road was tempting travelers to abandon
trains and horses in favor of long distance motoring excursions, and increasing numbers of adventurous explorers were setting out to discover the vast lands of America by car.
By 1930, 23 million vehicles were registered in the US and droves of auto enthusiasts were venturing out West in their Ford Model T’s and other popular “touring” vehicles. This surge
in road-tripping prompted a growing demand for safe, inexpensive places to stay the night,
and a profitable new business niche emerged – roadside lodging.
Businessmen were taking notice of the increasing traffic, and before long, tourist camps,
tourist homes and “Motels” began springing up along the roadways to cater to this new
crop of auto-adventurers crossing America.
CHAPTER 2 ...
Motels, Route 66 & Indoor Toilets!
“Motor Hotels” (shortened to Motel) were specifically designed for the motoring public.
They typically had an“I”, “L” or “U” shaped plan with single story rooms opening onto a
parking lot, making it easy to unload travel trunks and other gear from a vehicle. The first
motel in the WORLD was the “Milestone Mo-Tel” built in 1925 in San Luis Obispo California,
where small bungalows with attached garages rented for only $1.25 per night!
Unfortunately this renowned motel closed its doors in 1991.
Within a few years, another legendary landmark Motel was added to the map;
Du Beau’s Motel Inn. Construction of the Inn began in 1927, and by 1929 the sturdy red
brick complex was finally complete. Not only was it the first “Motel” in Flagstaff, it was also
designated as one of Americas first “Motor Courts” due to its innovative courtyard design
(Mr. Du Beau believed it was the first of its kind in the entire country, but chose not to
pursue trademark rights). Back in the day, room rates started at just $2.50/night
and advertisements boasted “luxurious” amenities including carpeting, double beds
and private tiled bathrooms… with indoor toilets!
Architecturally, the Du Beau exhibited typical motel design elements with its “U” shaped
layout and vehicle parking adjacent to guest rooms, but Albert was determined to stand
out in the industry and included an ingenious modern amenity in his master plan…
enclosed steam heated garages! The addition of the garages was specifically designed
to attract “the better class of motorist” by providing a space where guests could protect
their cherished vehicles from the cold Northern Arizona winters -
unfortunately the garages were destroyed by a fire in the 1970’s.
The “Main Street” location of the Du Beau also contributed to its appeal and success.
Mr. Du Beau strategically chose to build the Motel along the original Route 66
corridor that passed through the center of Flagstaff. This turned out to be a very
smart business decision, as US 66 was fast becoming the top choice among
motorists setting out to visit the Grand Canyon and beyond.
Established in 1926 and stretching over 2,400 miles, the 66 originated in Chicago Illinois and ended in Santa Monica California. By 1938 it was the first highway to be completely paved
(a welcome reprieve from the dusty, bumpy roads that preceded it!), and motel operators
along the route, including Albert Du Beau, were reaping the benefits of its
growing popularity and smoother traveling surface.
While Route 66 passes through 7 states altogether, Arizona has an exclusive relationship
with the celebrated roadway. It contains the longest unbroken stretch of the highway
still in existence; 158 miles from west of Ash Fork to the California state line. It was
also the first state to dedicate a span of U.S. 66 as “Historic Route 66”, and in 2009,
this same length of the route was selected as an “All-American Road” by the Federal
Highways National Scenic Byways Program. Only 31 roads in the nation hold this
distinction, and it's the only portion of Route 66 with this designation.
CHAPTER 3 ...
Neon lights, equality for All travelers, and Albert DuBeau Jr. arrives!
“Neon shimmers and glimmers, it reinvents the dusk and changes the direction
of color. Neon-sign language is the lingo of Route 66. Neon is the nightlight of
angels and drunkards” – Roger Naylor, Arizona Republic
Route 66 is famous for the medley of imaginative neon signs dotted along the
historic highway. As the “glowing” signage became a trademark motif of the popular
thoroughfare, Mr. Du Beau recognized his 66 Motel must join the growing trend.
In the early 1930’s, he initiated the construction of an iconic 80’ tower sign to be
erected on the corner of Phoenix and Beaver Avenues, to entice greater numbers of
Route 66 motorists to his door. With its vintage orange lettering and classic Route 66 styling, including an arrow with rotating lights, it softly illuminated the Flagstaff skyline beckoning weary nomads to this warm & welcoming respite along the “Mother Road”. Today, it is one of only 3 historic “tower” signs still standing in the Flagstaff area.
Apparently, Du Beau’s Inn has always been recognized as a friendly and hospitable place! Current owners John and Lisa McCulloch recently learned that the Motel Du Beau was
listed in “The Travel Guide”, a reference for African American travelers, whose
slogan read: “Vacation & Recreation Without Humiliation”.
The guide was part of an early movement to encourage folks of color to experience travel and explore the USA without the barriers of prejudice and disrespect. It provided suggestions for lodging, restaurants, gas stations and other types of businesses who had open-door policies and welcomed ALL travelers. The McCullochs are very pleased to know that their little Inn participated in this invaluable piece of literature and history!
With Du Beau’s Motel Inn operating smoothly, Albert and Clara moved on to other important matters... and started a family. Their son, Albert Neil DuBeau, was born in 1931 in a small room
in the central building of the DuBeau complex - (to follow suit, in 2012 the current owners’
first grandchild “Ronan Sol McCulloch” made his grand entrance into the world in DuBeau’s
room #11!). Albert Jr. spent his childhood living at the Motel accompaniedby his dog “Jigs”,
and later as a young adult he and wife Frances operated the Motel DuBeau business.
Albert II continues to live in southern California (as of 2016) and has returned to visit
his old homestead on several occasions, generously sharing family photos, historical
tid-bits and firsthand accounts of growing up at the Du Beau.
CHAPTER 4 ...
Changing times, Revitalization and Gratitude!
The Du Beau continued to operate as a motel until the 1970’s, when it was purchased by a local Flagstaff entrepreneur who began catering to international backpackers, and converted the facility to serve primarily as a hostel, with dormitory style housing, kitchens and laundry facilities. In 2000, the McCullochs purchased the Motel Du Beau and renamed it the Du Beau Route 66 International Hostel, sister facility to their Grand Canyon International Hostel. After more than a decade of functioning as a “seasonal” hostel, they decided to shift their
business approach and set their sights on attracting a broader, year-round audience of travelers.
In 2012, John and Lisa began a major restoration effort to revive the tired historic landmark motel, with aspirations of breathing new life into the old gal so future generations of all
varieties of travelers could enjoy her unique “personality” for years to come. They wanted to improve upon the overall quality of their product by updating guest rooms and adding
amenities beyond basic hostel offerings, while continuing to provide a unique guest
experience with an emphasis on relaxed surroundings, conducive to conversation.
Though the painstaking facelift is still underway, a fresh new look is slowly materializing.
Artisan-inspired touches give the historic inn a slightly more modern appeal, but its
classic old world charm still dominates the overall appearance of the property. Many of the original doors, floors, windows and hardware pieces are still intact, the buildings
look much the way they did in its heyday, and there’s also a particular spirit and
wisdom about the place, which only transpires with age!
Today, the new and improved “Motel Du Beau Travelers Inn” continues its transformation into
a distinctive “hybrid” lodging facility – Historic Route 66 Motel / International Travelers House / Hub for explorers! Its central location, delightful character and friendly welcome continues
to attract a diverse and adventurous audience of travelers from around the planet.
The latest addition to the property, Nomads Global Lounge, touts the slogan
“Where the World Comes to Mingle”. The new watering hole offers a selection of globally inspired cuisine and libations delivered in a cozy, “earthy inspired” atmosphere,
giving motel guests and Flagstaff locals the opportunity to mix & socialize
without the all too common distraction of blaring televisions in every corner!
Thanks to Mr. Du Beau’s early visionary scheme, the Motel Du Beau remains a popular
choice for a handful of the nearly 5 million unique tourists who visit the Grand Canyon
each year. An eclectic mix of happy adventurers from around the world continue to
gather here, sharing epic stories, practical travel advice, and inspiring others to
embark on their own unforgettable journeys.
Thank you Albert Eugene Du Beau for creating “The Beautiful” Motel Du Beau!