Bryon Woods and his wife Barbara used their 2003 Texas Lottery winnings to rebuild a classic 1940-1950’s roadside structure, a Tee Pee Motel. Here’s the story…
As in the Tee Pee Motel, a throwback to the 1940s and ’50s, when taking a drive was still in style and roadside businesses used gimmicky architecture — like a gas station that looked like an oil derrick — to lure customers. The Tee Pee Motel is one of just a handful of tepee-themed lodges left in the country.
For years, however, Wharton’s Tee Pee Motel was little more than eleven gutted shells engulfed by a tangle of overgrown weeds and a broken sign that once beckoned guests with neon lights and an image of an American Indian chief.
After waffling for a few months, Bryon Woods gave in. He bought the 10-acre property for $60,000 — and spent the next two years and $1.6 million sweeping away the cobwebs and debris, remodeling, painting and fixing the neon sign.
"This wasn’t about making money. It’s having something no one else has," said Woods, 42, whose grandmother was Comanche. "This is a piece of Texas history."
They reopened the motel in 2006 and have attracted guests mainly by word of mouth and the Internet. It just goes to show you what you can do with financial freedom no matter how you achieve it, through luck or through work. Restoring a historical structure like that motel is the kind of thing that’s both a good personal investment as well as an investment in the local community.
One investment that the Woods’ should make is in a good, professional, web site. Their MySpace page promoting the motel is really a mess, even by MySpace standards and their own domain isn’t much better.
What would you spend your money on if you won or earned that kind of money? Leave me a comment and let me know.