From horse-drawn wagons to solar-powered cars, the Historic Buena Vista Motel has been a landmark on the Historic National Road through ages of westward travel.
The original Buena Vista Tavern was built in 1836. The inn was a simple but spacious federal-style brick house with unique features, such as an oversized front door and extra panes in the windows. There were at least three guest rooms, a parlor, a large dining room, and a servants' kitchen and quarters.
In the 1930s, the inn operated as the Hollyhock Lodge, and seven cabins were built behind the main house, in a quaint motor-lodge arrangement. Postcards from the time boasted that everyone from P.T. Barnum to Abraham Lincoln stayed at the inn when it was the Buena Vista Tavern. Although all of its alleged famous guests were known to have traveled the National Trail, there is no substantial evidence that they visited the Buena Vista Tavern.
Phillip and Denna Johnson bought the property in 1963 and rented out rooms in the house and the cabins as the Buena Vista Motel. In 1966, one year before Interstate 70 was opened, the Johnson's shut down the hotel and rented the cabins as apartments until 1986. One cabin burnt down in 1968 when a guest left clothing on top of the heater.
There are now three cabins left of the original seven. Denna Johnson finished restoration of the first cabin in 2007 and is working on the other two, scheduled to open in 2008.