Arkansas February 14, 2018
Few People Know The Full Story Behind This Little Retro Motel In Arkansas
The history is rich in Arkansas. Many family businesses can trace their previous owners throughout the decades and see the up-kept tradition and added flair each new generation brings. The particular business we’re looking at today had lost its original family owners, but the iconic motel has recently been brought back to life by the third generation. Let’s look at the new face and old story of the Joy Motel.
The Joy Motel opened in 1929 as Eureka Springs' original motor motel.
Eureka Springs had only one other motel at this time. Owners, Ray and Chloe Freeman, built the motel next door to their 1910 homestead.
The Freeman family contributed more than just affordable lodging for the town.
Ray Freeman and later his son, Charles, were both mayors of Eureka Springs. In addition to holding office, Ray's other contributions included multiple recreational pursuits. He leased Lake Leatherwood, operated cabins on the White River, and opened Onyx Cave as an attraction.
Most interesting is his feud with Norman Baker (yes, the same Baker that killed his patients and currently haunts the Crescent Hotel). The Freeman family warned others to stay away from Baker's cancer "treatments." This infuriated Baker to the point of writing an open letter which was published in the local newspaper in 1939. In the letter, he accused Freeman of lacking integrity and damaging Eureka Springs' economy. Needless to say, the feud ended once Baker was found guilty for (some) of his crimes.
What made the motel most iconic was the pool.
Besides being the second motel ever built in town, Joy also held the distinction of having the first and largest pool. It was the only pool available to the public as well as guests.
Joy was recently brought back to the motel after the Freeman grandson, Tim, bought the motel in mid-2017.
Tim Freeman has an extensive background in hotel management and fond memories of growing up around Joy. The motel couldn't have a more fitting new owner.
The renovations of the motel's rooms are nearly complete but Tim isn't stopping there.
He wants the new image of the motel to be targeted towards any traveler interested in Eureka Springs' outdoor recreation. Besides being centrally located to the different local outdoor adventures (like the nearby zip line), the motel will soon have its own climbing wall.
Freeman also plans to utilize the family's 1910 homestead.
After Ray and Chloe had departed, the family house was only used for storage. Tim plans on renovating the house to be a gathering space for guests. Within the coming year, the revamped house should have food and bar services.
The Joy Motel is now back in business as the Wanderoo Lodge.
Although the motel has a new name and face, Tim is dedicated to preserving the nostalgia and history of the location. Folks will be reminded of their early stays at the Joy Motel as soon as they pull into the new Wanderoo and see the Joy's iconic neon sign still standing.
Experience the new chapter for this beloved motel during your next trip to Eureka Springs.
The Wanderoo Lodge is located at 216 W Van Buren in Eureka Springs.
Do you have memories of the Joy Motel’s early years? Reminisce with us in the comments below!
To learn more about the ghosts of Eureka Springs, read about the city’s
insane amount of paranormal activity.