They’re a piece of Americana, making their debut in the 1930s. And the streamline design of vintage travel trailers holds a special place in Southern Arizona.
As reported by the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, the Shady Dell B&B in Bisbee, owned by Jennifer and Justin Luria, is home to nine fully restored trailers — ranging from a 1949 Airstream to a 1957 El Rey, which visitors can book for the night. The Shady Dell had been a campground for weary travelers on the legendary Highway 80, which stretched from Savannah, Ga., to San Diego, Calif., and most closely approximates the route of the historic Lincoln Highway, the first road across America.
These vintage trailers are part of Southern Arizona’s history of mid-century modern design and architecture. Capturing the enthusiasm and optimism of the post-World War II era, this architectural movement has been defined by the use of regional materials that can endure the harsh summer temperatures. Vintage trailers hold up well in a place that emphasizes outdoor living, in a dry climate preventing rust.
“It’s Americana,” says Demion Clinco, president of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. “Trailers, neon signs, classic cars — they all kind of represent this idyllic notion of what America was like in the 1950s and ‘60s. It represents this exuberance after World War II. It’s this idea of, ‘Let’s go see the future. Get in our cute little airplane-designed little tin can and experience the United States.’ ”
At the second annual Tucson Modernism Week, presented earlier this year by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, events focused on the history and design of vintage trailers over the decades and were a new addition to this year’s itinerary. Attendees of the three-day extravaganza were able to choose from several events, including the Vintage Trailer Show and a lecture given by Rich Luhr, publisher of Airstream Life magazine. The new event featured trailers of the past, with the oldest from 1948, all the way up to a brand new, modern-day version of an Airstream trailer.
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