Once upon a time in 1948, within sight of the highest mountain range in the Grand Canyon State, Ray Wanek purchased 13 acres of ponderosa pine. At the time, the nearby railroad town of Flagstaff seemed far, far away, which suited Ray just fine. A year later, he built his first cabin on his “remote” property in the woods.
In 1953, Ray met and married Pauline. But his new wife wasn’t as rustic as he, preferring the Ritz Carlton to a cozy cabin in the woods. Pauline let it be known that she was not going to live in the middle of nowhere without neighbors, while her traveling salesman of a spouse was so often away leaving her home alone. So, Ray came up with the perfect solution: he built Cabin #2 in 1956. After all, if you don’t want to relocate to be close to a neighbor, bring a neighbor to you.
As the years passed, more cabins were built on the property. The much larger Cabin #16 was constructed in 1969, becoming the new home of the Waneks and, by then, their 4 children.
What’s now known as The Hogan was the final cabin built, in 1988. Originally intended as an outdoor Ramada, the structure was not approved by the city of Flagstaff. Instead, it was enclosed and converted into a spacious round cabin.
That same year, Ray wrote a poem for his beloved wife of 25 years and posted it on a tree near Cabin #1, their first home together. You can still see that poem today. It reads:
In the Spring of ’53
Underneath this very tree
I asked Pauline to marry me.
She saw the rings and squealed “Eeeeee…”
(Pauline doesn’t like this line…understandably.)
It’s been super years, now 25
Full of love and joy to be alive
Four fine children God has given
This land and life in Him we’ve striven
Now we go on together praising Him!
In 1981, the Wanek family moved once again, and again they didn’t move far. The main Inn was built that year, becoming the last and largest Wanek family home on the property.
Once the kids had grown and moved away, the empty-nesters decided to turn that ample, Tudor-style home into a B&B. The cabins were used as long-term rentals, especially for NAU students and faculty, but were eventually transitioned to short-term vacation rentals.
In February, 1998, two of those vacation cabin renters were newlyweds Brian and Mary Bostwick, who spent their honeymoon in Cabin #9. Both working in the technology industry at the time, they talked about their future plans while relaxing and recreating in beautiful northern Arizona. Brian had construction experience and mused that it wouldn’t be all that difficult to build cabins much like those at the Arizona Mountain Inn. One thought and dream led to another, and the Bostwicks decided to speak with the Waneks about building a similar establishment. Unbeknownst to the Bostwicks, the Inn was actually for sale.
Ray and Pauline had always said they’d know when they met the “right” people to take over the Inn. And they did. The sale to Brian and Mary was completed in September 1998, fifty years after Ray had purchased the undeveloped land. The Bostwicks have owned what is now called the Arizona Mountain Inn & Cabins ever since.
Sadly, Ray Wanek passed away in September 2003, and his family scattered his ashes near Cabin #1. Ray loved the Inn and really put his heart into building it and running the business. The Bostwicks now carry on that passion.
Following in Ray’s footsteps, Mary wrote a poem for Brian on their second wedding anniversary and posted it at Cabin #9. (Read the poem here, under Accommodations, Cabin 9.)