Sunday, April 24, 2011

Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room - 1988 A Look Back

When I was in college in the mid to late 1980s, I spent a few summers working at 'The Happiest Place on Earth' (e.g., Disneyland). It was a really fun job! At that time, Disneyland produced a free weekly newsletter for the cast members of the Park and the Disneyland Hotel, it was called the Disneyland Line. I recently found an old issue of the Line that I had stashed away, it has an interesting article about Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room.

Disneyland Line, June 24, 1988

Birds of a Feather Flock Together for 25 Years

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Erawan Garden Hotel - Indian Wells, California

The Erawan Garden Hotel was constructed in 1963 in the City of Indian Wells, California, just down the road from Palm Springs in the Cochella Valley.

Image from the book Palm Springs Holiday

The Erawan was not Polynesian themed, it had a Far East design with some roadside flair added in. It advertised itself as the 'Luxury of the Orient'. The hotel included fourteen 2-story bungalows, a restaurant (Cambodia Dining Room) and a Lounge (Moongate Lounge). This fantastic signage looks like it had a gas torch at the top to light at night.

The color scheme of the Erawan was so simple and beautiful. The Hotel sat on 11 acres and included landscaped gardens and gas tiki torches between each of the bungalow buildings.

The Earwan operated for 34 years until it was purchased in 1996 by Marcus Hotels & Resorts. Marcus closed the hotel for a major refurbishment and reopened the doors a year later as the Miramonte Resort & Spa.

The Miramonte Resort today as an upscale Mediterranean Resort

At the time of the refurbishment, then Mayor of Indian Wells, Mr. Walter McIntyre, stated that "The heritage that was the Erawan will be displayed through renderings and photographs at City Hall."

I wonder if those images still hang on the wall of City Hall? I would love to see artist renderings and additional photos of this fantastic midcentury roadside marvel. Any readers of this blog live in the Coachella Valley?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Music to Watch Girls By - Trader Vic's, Kansas City

During our last post we explored some of the tiki influences in St. Louis, Missouri. Let's stay in the region and head west along I-70 for a few hundred miles until we reach Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City had a few tiki establishments including, The Castaways, Kona Kai and Kon Tiki Ports, but today we are going to look at Trader Vic's. Vic Bergeron opened his twentieth Trader Vic's restaurant in Kansas City in 1973.

It was located in the lobby of the Crown Center Hotel (currently operating as the Westin Crown Center). The hotel is just one portion of the large master planned Crown Center site that includes office, retail, entertainment and residential development.

Vic's operated in this location from 1973 when the hotel opened until 1996

Vic's was located in the lobby at the bottom of the escalators that lead to the commercial district of Crown Center, directly across from the front desk

Trader Vic standing at the entrance to one of his restaurants

Rough concept sketch for the Crown Center Trader Vic's

Before we continue with the second half of this post, take a quick peek at this video to set the stage.

In July 1973, The Kansas City Star ran this short story in their newspaper about the new activity of girl watching that was happening in the Trader Vic's Lounge.

I love the fact the writer references the peak times to be in the lounge to enjoy the sights.

Fashion from 1973

The old dogs are sipping on Mai Tais and enjoying the show....

Vic was a salty old dog himself, I'm sure he approved!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pacific Design in St. Louis, Missouri

As I have mentioned previously, I find a lot of my information in old magazines. Last year I discovered American Builder and it is a gold mine of information on popular deisgns for residential and commercial construction from back in the day.

American Builder, Nov. 1961

As I was trying to track down a lead for this story last year, I discovered that the magazine published two different issues each month, a Western issue (for builders in California, Colorado, Arizona, etc) and a second version for the builders in the Eastern half of the United States. I only had access to the Western issues here at a local University archive, but my friend Nathan in St. Louis, helped me out and sent me the information I was looking for in the Northern issue from August 1959 along with some additional background information about the builder. Thanks Nathan!

Stop by and check out his nice website to promote preservation and appreciation of Mid Century design in the St. Louis area

St. Louis had its share of well known tiki establishments, including The Mainlander and Trader Vic's at the Bel Air East Hotel. But what's not commonly known is that this midwest city also tried its hand at building Pacific styled residential homes. While in some parts of the country, Pacific or Hawaiian style tract home subdivisions were all the rage (specifically Southern California) it was quite a different story in the conservative midwest in the early 1960s.

American Builder, August 1959 (Northern Issue)

I don't think its a coincidence that this article ran in August 1959, the same month that Hawaii became the 50th State and mainland American was going crazy for anything Hawaiian.

Designed by Robert 'Bud' Krieckhaus

This house was built in the Harwood Hills Subdivision by the Burton Duenke Building Company (the pictured house still stands and remains mostly unaltered today). Duenke was largely responsible for bringing the 'modern' ranch home to St. Louis, eventually building hundreds of homes in the area.

I love the builders comment about the public's reaction to the style as a violent liking or disliking!

The short article also ran a few construction details on how to construct the Dickey roof line (remember, this is a trade magazine).

Around the same time that this article was published, Burton Duenke was also heavily involved in developing the Lake of the Ozarks as a tourist destination, and construction of his Tan-Tar-A resort (approx. 140 miles southwest of St. Louis). The resort was somewhat a result of Duenke's travels, which may also explain the idea for a Pacific-Style home in St, Louis.

Take a closer look at the above picture of the resort and you will find traces of exotic rooflines...

You can also see the exotic influence in the roof and extended decorative ridge beam in the restaurant.

At Tan-Tar-A, Duenke also built the Happy House outdoor restaurant and lounge.

No traces of tiki, but they did have some Japanese glass floats hanging from the ceiling

A quote from the back of restaurant postcard reads "The Happy House brings exotic South Sea Island atmosphere to Tan-Tar-A resort."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tiki Architecture Blog is 1 year old

We all know that time speeds up as we get older, seems like just yesterday I started this blog with my posts about the Waikikian Hotel. Well, it has been one year since I started posting information from my research and archives and I thought I'd share with you readers some of the behind the scenes statistics for this blog.

How many readers have visited?
You may have likely noticed the site counter on the right toolbar. At the one year mark, it has registered 10,614 visitors. Is that a respectable number for a niche blog like this, I don't know? I just like to have an idea how many folks out there are reading my jibberish.

How do readers get here?
The stat counter has a really great function in that is tracks how every person ended up at Tiki Architecture. Here is a list of some very common search terms on how readers found this blog:
-Polynesia House Design
-Heywood Wakefield Furniture Tiki
-Tropical Architecture Sketch
-Tiki Apartments Southern California
-Disneyland Tiki
-Roof Design Hawaii
-Tiki Architecture Waikiki
-Polynesian Mid Century Design
-Tikiyaki Polynesian Village Resort
-How Much Tiki Culture does Spongebob Borrow From

Readers have also ended up on the site using some crazy search terms, like:

-Enchanted Beings?
-Damsel in a Tower?
-Asphalt 50 Year Roof San Diego?

But far and away most visitors end up here as a result from a Google Image search.

Who is reading this blog?

As of last night when I was writting this post, here is a Recent Visitor Map of the readers who stopped by on Sunday.

and Finally...

The Top 5 most popular posts over the last year (based on page views)

#5. Remembering the Kahiki

#4. Bali Hai Restaurant - New Orleans, LA

#3. Backyard Polynesia - Part 1

#2. Tiki Homes - Clairemont, CA

#1. Disneyland's Hidden Tiki Bar

Hope you all have enjoyed reading the blog! I'd be interested to hear your comments.