The Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark, which overlooks the desert from Kachina Point, is a historic inn that once served as a lunch counter and trading post for early travelers on Route 66. After the Park Service purchased it from private owners in 1936, Civilian Conservation Corps workers rebuilt it in the Southwestern style, not so cleverly covering some of the building's original petrified-wood walls with stucco. Upon completion in 1940, the 28-room inn became an immediate hit with travelers. It closed, however, during the last years of World War II. After the war, the Fred Harvey Company managed the building, using it as a visitor center and restaurant until 1963, when the new Painted Desert Visitor Center opened.
In 1947, Fred Kabotie, the renowned Hopi artist whose work also graces the Desert Watchtower at the Grand Canyon, painted several murals inside, including one that depicted the coming-of-age journey of the Hopi to the sacred Zuni salt lake. Kabotie's murals may have helped save the building, which had structural problems caused by expansion and contraction of the clay underneath it. When it was threatened with demolition in the 1960s, preservationists cited the value of Kabotie's art as they called for protecting the building. The Painted Desert Inn was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and a year-long restoration project was completed in the spring of 2006. The landmark, which contains a museum and bookstore, is open daily from 9am to 5pm year-round, except Christmas. For more information, see www. nps.gov/pefo/historyculture/pdi.htm.
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