Goodbye, Wagon Wheel

January 28, 2009

Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant, Oxnard, California

Preservation vs. renewal: who is going to win the fight?

In the case of Oxnard’s iconic Wagon Wheel, it looks like preservation is going the way of the dodo.

Ventura County denizens — especially those with a fondness for all things retro and historic — have been waiting with bated breath to see what the Oxnard City Council would decide for the fate of the famous roadside western -themed motel/bowling alley, and last night that word came in, with the council deciding, unanimously, to demolish the buildings on the property.

When the Wagon Wheel is razed, it’ll make way for some brand spanking new homes, some commercial and mixed use, and some snappy apartment buildings.

Come to think of it, that’s pretty impressive. I think I might consider moving there.

But wait a second! This is a blog post about historic preservation. The question is: At what point do we draw the line at what we save and what we throw away? Is demolishing the Wagon Wheel really “throwing it all away”? And who’s to say that in 50 years’ time, these new structures won’t themselves be considered historic?

It’s all subjective, I suppose. I think it comes down to the notion of one man’s trash being another’s treasure. The San Buenaventura Historic Commission lobbied tirelessly to save the Wagon Wheel; yet, city officials in Oxnard, many of whom grew up with the Wagon Wheel, looked at it as no big deal, really.

I’d say their heads are focused on the renewal/improvement aspect of it all, but there’s just something about the situation that makes me think they’re slightly embarrassed by the sight of that shuttered, overgrown site off the 101.

Which antique locations in Ventura County might be next?

At any rate, having the Wagon Wheel around was good while it lasted.

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One Response to “Goodbye, Wagon Wheel”

  1. timberpalace Says:

    I’d say sites like are already considered historic. At least they should be by anyone who really take a moment to consider the situation.

    Motels tell the story of America’s suburban expansion. Its not so trendy right now but it is certainly an important part of American history, especially in Ventura, county.

    It is sad. The same ideas behind mixed use developments also ask that we save what we have. Unfortunately the term has been turned into a buzzword for developers.

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