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Manning’s Coffee sign being restored December 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Restaurants, Signs, Theaters.

The historic Manning’s Coffee Store rooftop sign in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles is being restored, reported the Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch.

Manning’s Coffee went out of business in the 1960s, and the sign’s neon lighting hasn’t functioned for many years. Las Cazuelas restaurant now occupies the building.

The area is part of the North Figueroa Street corridor in Los Angeles, which contained Route 66 from 1931 to 1934 and again from 1936 to 1960.

Here is an image of the unrestored Manning Coffee Store sign.

According to the story, a cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is being used to restore the sign. Community leaders and volunteers are covering the rest of the cost.

“It turns out, it’s kind of important in terms of signage history because it combines neon with opal glass, and there’s very few of those in existence,” said Amy Inouye of Future Studio. “As well as the fact that there’s not any signs like this from Manning’s that we know of at all on the entire West Coast.” […]

Richard Ankrum, a neon restoration expert, is currently working on painting the sign and is scheduled to install the neon lights later this week. A note on the flyer for the relighting ceremony taking place at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, states that original materials will be used in the restoration and only missing and broken pieces will be replaced.

According to Future Studio, the Manning sign was erected in 1933.

The newspaper also says the groups consulted with the Museum of Neon Art to ensure that the original neon colors are used in the sign.

Nearby, the historic Highland Theatre rooftop sign was restored and relit to much fanfare in May.

A drive over the Lake Overholser Bridge December 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Preservation, Vehicles.
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This YouTube poster drove his old Mustang over the recently restored Lake Overholser Bridge, which carries old Route 66 in Oklahoma City:

The 1924 bridge was reopened to traffic in October after a $4 million repair project.

NOTE: Skip ahead to the 3:00 mark to see the relevant footage. I tried to embed it to that point, but it’s not working consistently. Also, there’s a bit of profanity in the very beginning of the clip.

A visit to Red Oak II December 26, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Preservation, Towns.
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This video by Steve Crutchfield shows and explains the Red Oak II complex off old Route 66 near Carthage, Mo.

For more, the Red Oak II official website is here.

Santa Rosa applying for byways grant for Route 66 museum December 19, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation, Towns.
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Santa Rosa, N.M., is applying for a grant from the National Scenic Byways Program so it can renovate the historic Ilfeld-Johnson Warehouse near downtown and eventually house what would be the state’s only Route 66 museum.

On Dec. 15, Santa Rosa tourism director Richard Delgado announced the intent during a mass email to about 30 Route 66 supporters or officials. Delgado requested letters of support for the grant request. The deadline to submit the application is Dec. 29, he said.

Delgado wrote:

Our Ilfeld/Johnson warehouse project is truly “shovel ready” and work on the facility could begin as soon as January 2012, and we have one Interpretive Exhibit for the warehouse already in the works and 2 of the 4 are near completion.

Santa Rosa is in good standing with our Scenic Byways projects and we will be looking to take some steps to get more work done in the Ilfeld Warehouse as a Byway facility which will house in part the New Mexico Route 66 Museum. New Mexico is the only one of the 8 Route 66 States, that does not have an ‘official’ State Route 66 Museum. The visitor and interpretive center and museum can become known worldwide as a must-stop along Route 66.

The Ilfeld-Johnson Warehouse is just northeast of downtown Santa Rosa. The building was constructed in 1901, and contains about 9,000 square feet.

A photo illustration of the proposed Route 66 museum inside the Ilfeld-Johnson Warehouse in Santa Rosa, N.M.

According to a 2008 report produced by a Santa Fe firm for the city, the warehouse would cost $1.2 million to renovate. It’s not impossible for the National Scenic Byways program to award $1 million or more, as this listing of the 2011 grants shows. And Santa Rosa may acquire enough cash in hand to shrink that grant request.

Delgado would not say how much is being requested from the Byways Program.

In addition to housing Route 66 memorabilia, Santa Rosa envisions the warehouse containing railroad artifacts, Western heritage and Spanish Colonial exhibits, a vintage travel trailer, movie and music exhibits, a research library, gift shop, and performance stage.

Johnnie Meier, a longtime Route 66 enthusiast and owner of the Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, N.M., would move much of his petroliana collection into the warehouse for the Santa Rosa Route 66 museum. He said he submitted a lease proposal to the city “years ago,” and says the offer stands. In an email, he said:

My message to the city officials in Santa Rosa has always been, “I’m ready when you are.”

My assessment of the historic building is that it would meet the requirements for National Register recognition.  With expansive exhibit space, oak floors, beamed open high ceilings, stone walls and available outdoor exhibit space, it is an ideal location for a future New Mexico Route 66 Museum. The building is in remarkably well preserved condition, well worth the modest renovation costs.

Tucumcari, about 60 miles to the east, also is trying to land a Route 66 museum and Meier’s collection at an abandoned truck stop on the west edge of town.

Lisa Lauriault, executive director of the Tucumcari / Quay County Chamber of Commerce, said in an email, without providing specifics, that ” there are grants … in the works for projects such as a Route 66 museum.”

And Richard Talley, owner of the Motel Safari in Tucumcari and a proponent of a Route 66 museum in town, said Tucumcari could quickly offer an alternative site for the museum if the truck-stop property wasn’t available.

As for me, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. Wherever a Route 66 museum lands in New Mexico is good for Route 66 in general. Given that several Route 66 museums in other states are more than a decade old, I’m a little surprised someone in the Land of Enchantment hasn’t stepped up to create one long before now.

El Trovatore resurrected as a motel December 18, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.

El Trovatore Motel in Kingman, Ariz., recently reopened to overnight travelers after being used as apartments for the past few years. The owner says he plans to restore the historic Route 66 motel in the coming months, including its distinctive neon signs.

El Trovatore owner Sam Frisher, born in Israel but has lived in the United States for more than 30 years, said in a phone interview Sunday that he acquired a motel license from the City of Kingman last week. El Trovatore had been used as apartments for the past few years.

Twenty-two guest rooms are available for $39.99 a night (plus free breakfast for two at a nearby restaurant). All of the rooms will be renovated and reopened in the coming months.

Frisher told a few of his plans for the property:

— Many of the rooms will have Hollywood star themes, such as John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn.

— Frisher kept many of the original bathroom furnishings, including the triangle-shaped sinks and tile floors.

— The main El Trovatore sign near the highway will be repainted and its neon restored. Frisher estimates that work will be finished by early January.

— Frisher hopes to restore the neon on the distinctive El Trovatore tower sign on the rear of the property within the next three months. A recent photo of the sign can be found here.

— Frisher plans to launch a website for the motel within the next few weeks.

— Longer term, Frisher wants to build an observation deck around the base of the El Trovatore sign tower. That spot affords good views of the nearby mountain ranges and the city.

All told, Frisher thinks he’ll have the renovations completed by mid-summer.

He said he’s paying for the restoration effort by refinancing the mortgage to a lower rate, plus another loan for the remodeling.

He said he initially explored using LED lighting in place of some of the neon, but reconsidered.

“What’s the point of restoring it if you don’t do the original look?” he said. “So we’re going with the original neon. That’s the kind of stuff you want to keep for America and Route 66.”

Frisher acknowledged that El Trovatore saw troubled times with police calls and code violations in recent years. He blamed poor management. He said he’s living on the premises to make sure the restoration proceeded properly.

One reason restoring El Trovatore may be a good move is because it will accommodate large Route 66 tour groups. Kingman boasts several vintage motels —Hilltop Motel is a good example — but they’re too small for tour buses.

El Trovatore Court was built in 1939 on El Trovatore Hill by John F. Miller, who gained fame and fortune years before by building the first hotel in Las Vegas, Hotel Nevada, in 1906.

UPDATE: Jim Hinckley at Route 66 Chronicles has a few more details about the motel, plus photos.

(Hat tip to Jim Hinckley; vintage postcard images of El Trovatore courtesy of Joe Sonderman)

Springfield continues to negotiate for Bel-Aire Motel December 16, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Museums, Preservation.

The City of Springfield, Ill., is continuing negotiations with the owners of the historic Bel-Aire Motel, with the hope to eventually convert it into a Route 66 museum and visitors center or some other use, reported the State Journal-Register.

The owners are Gopal and Nimal Motwani, based in Florida. The motel, on the Sixth Street alignment of Route 66 in Springfield, sits in Alderman Cory Jobe’s district.

Jobe, whose ward includes the Bel-Aire, said those talks continue. He added that there have been discussions with the Motwanis, as well a potential developer. According to a commercial real estate listing,  the owners are asking $900,000 for the 80-room property.

The Sangamon County assessor put the fair market value at about $755,000.

The motel was targeted for city inspections in June, and the owners were forced to make electrical, structural and fire safety repairs afterward. The Bel-Aire rents mainly to long-term residents.

The distance between the market value and the owners’ buyout price isn’t that vast. It wouldn’t surprise me if an agreement is reached eventually.

A recent photo of the Bel-Aire can be found here. As you can see, the retro neon sign, including a Sputnik structure, would make it a beacon for Route 66 travelers if the motel were converted into a tourist center.

Elderly woman may be new owner of old Cuervo school December 11, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Preservation, Towns.

An 80-year-old woman likely will be the new owner of the long-closed but historic school building in the Route 66 hamlet of Cuervo, N.M., according to a story in the current print edition of the Guadalupe County Communicator, based in nearby Santa Rosa.

The Santa Rosa school board owns the property, but put it up for bids some months ago. According to the newspaper, the high bidder is Flora Page, who was born and reared in Cuervo.

Page reportedly bid $10,250, beating out three others that ranged from $10,100.50 to $6,350. The Santa Rosa Schools superintendent says he will recommend the high bid be accepted.

The Communicator said:

Seeing the school where she had so many memories fall apart, “I was so heartbroken,” Mrs. Page said on Tuesday in a phone interview from her primary residence in Albuquerque.

“You know what? For a long time I’ve been wanting to buy that school,” she said. “At the time, it had all the windows, doors, everything … It’s in pretty bad shape now. If I don’t get it, I hope somebody thinks enough of it to do something with it.” […]

Her late father, a stone mason, was among those who helped construct the school, which drew pupils from a wide area of the countryside. […]

Although her exact plans are up in the air, she stressed that her plan would be to restore the building and put it to use — not to dismantle it or tear it down.

Page will face a Herculean effort to restore the property. Not only is the structure dilapidated from neglect and age, but it’s difficult to even access it because of deep erosion around the property boundaries.

A recent photo of Cuervo School can be seen here.

Time to groom some heirs December 2, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Motels, People, Preservation.
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Esley Hamilton, historian for St. Louis County and a longtime preservation advocate, likely will be forced to retire soon because of budget cuts to the county’s parks department, according to a story Wednesday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Hamilton has been a tireless champion for historic structures in St. Louis, including at least one notable one on Route 66.

According to the newspaper’s report:

Hamilton, 66, has actually been trying to retire for the past year, but his work won’t let go of him. In recent months, he has led efforts to save a historic blacksmith shop in Spanish Lake, a Presbyterian church dating to 1839 in Rock Hill and, unsuccessfully, the Brownhurst Mansion in Kirkwood, built in 1892.

He has yet to step down, mostly for lack of a successor. He said he asked his bosses last year who might replace him. Their answer: no one.

“The stumbling block has been for the past year that if I retire, it will be the end of the position,” Hamilton said. […]

“Nobody in St. Louis can function without that man,” said Jane Gleason, chairwoman of the county’s Historic Buildings Commission. “We’ve all allowed ourselves to lean on him so much that the idea of losing him completely upsets the apple cart.”

And this …

Hamilton has had his disappointments. Chief among them was the 1941 Art Deco-style Coral Court Motel on Watson Road, the old Route 66. In 1995, Hamilton praised it as “one of the foremost examples of streamline modern architecture of the 1930s and 1940s.” But the motel — or no-tell as it was called at the time — had become known for its hourly rates. The complex in the village of Marlborough was demolished to make room for a subdivision.

A few observations from me …

— If St. Louis County doesn’t preserve (no pun intended) Hamilton’s job, at least one official said it may allow him to volunteer up to 20 hours a week. Or the county could find a way to reassign his position so it can keep him on the payroll. The latter option isn’t impossible. The story remains one of the Post-Dispatch’s 10 most-read stories 36 hours after its publication, and the resultant public outcry may persuade St. Louis County to keep him.

— If Hamilton is cut loose, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a preservation group hire him. I have no direct knowledge that this would happen. However, such a group having Hamilton on staff would give it tremendous credibility.

— Finally, it’s apparent from the story that St. Louis preservationists rely heavily on Hamilton. However, because of his age, Hamilton or his future employer had better get a few understudies so they can learn his methods and carry on his work in the future.

As things stand now, the St. Louis preservation community could be rudderless for years if Hamilton dies or his health fails. The situation is akin to historic restaurant’s future existence being threatened because the senior cook holds all the recipes in his brain and won’t / can’t give them to his apprentices. Esley Hamilton needs some preservation-minded heirs.

(On a semi-related note, I sure hope former Pig Hip restaurant owner Ernie Edwards gives his secret sauce recipe to someone before he sheds his mortal coil.)

Kansas Route 66 attains Historic Byway status November 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Highways, Movies, Preservation.
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The Kansas portion of historic Route 66 has been designated as a Kansas Historic Byway, according to a news release today from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The designation applies to all 13 miles of Route 66 in southeastern Kansas, including older alignments. As a result, the route will feature Kansas Scenic Byway signs (example here), be placed on the National Scenic Byways listing, and be included on the Kansas Scenic Byways website.

Also, the designation will enable the route to be eligible for federal grants to enhance and/or promote the byway.

The news release said:

“The designation of Kansas Historic Route 66 will emphasize the important significance of the route in this area for visitors and local residents, encouraging them to drive the route and explore the communities along it,” said Scott Shields, Kansas State Byways Coordinator.

An historic byway must have resources that are historically significant, be numerous, visible and have a setting or character that is complementary to the resources. “We are excited to add Historic Route 66 to the Kansas Byway collection. The route designation provides travelers a chance to view the relationship between the history of the original highway and the landscape and structures that define the area, in a combined effort to promote tourism and economic development, while exploring the natural and cultural importance of the byway communities,” Shields said.

Renee Charles of Galena and Marla Larison of Baxter Springs serve as co-chairs of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Planning Committee.

Charles is one of the proprietors of 4 Women on the Route in Galena, which has become a significant Route 66 attraction. The business serves as a combination restaurant and tourism center in a refurbished Kan-O-Tex gas station. Also, a 1951 International boom truck that served as a major inspiration to Mater in the Disney-Pixar films “Cars” and “Cars 2” is displayed at 4 Women on the Route.

Kansas joins Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Arizona, and New Mexico as states which have earned National Scenic Byway or All-American Road designations along their stretches of Route 66.

The only holdouts left are Texas and California, and the Golden State probably will join the byways program soon upon the completion of a comprehensive study of Route 66 in California.

Lake Overholser Bridge November 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Music, Preservation.
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The historic Lake Overholser Bridge in western Oklahoma City was reopened to traffic a few weeks ago, as this new video clip shows:

Music is by The Road Crew.

UPDATE: Concidentally, here’s another angle from the bridge that was just posted from another YouTube account:

Latest Tucumcari gas-station makeover is complete November 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation.
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The latest old gas station in Tucumcari, N.M., to receive a makeover has been completed.

This building, which now houses Four Season Pest Control, has been repainted to resemble an old-time Magnolia station.

A group of volunteers has given nostalgic paint jobs to more than a half-dozen abandoned or repurposed gas stations along Route 66 in Tucumcari. It’s a cheap way to dress up eyesore properties along the Mother Road. Such an effort deserves to be copied.

Tucumcari also will host its annual Christmas Parade of Lights on Saturday night, Dec. 17.

(Photo courtesy of Richard Talley)

World’s Largest Catsup Bottle rolls out new holiday ornament November 21, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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The folks at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Ill., have announced the creation of a new ornament for Christmas and other Yuletide holidays, featuring that distinctive water tower.

According to the news release:

Each red, white, and blue 3-D brass ornament comes in a red, gold-stamped collector’s box with a commemorative insert. Official Catsup Bottle red Christmas ribbon is also included!

The ornament is stamped on the back with the Catsup Bottle website address and “Made in U.S.A.” The box measures 5″ x 5″ and the oval ornament measures 3.25″ x 2.25″.

If you live in the Collinsville, Illinois, area, ornaments are available for purchase at Ashmann’s Pharmacy, Dean’s Wine & Liquor, The Flower Basket, and Cullop Jennings Florist. They are also available at both Collinsville Walgreens locations.

The ornament, which lists for $16.50, can be ordered online here.

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits near the site of a former Brooks Catsup factory. The 100,000-gallon water tower, painted to resemble a Brooks ketchup bottle, was built in 1949.

Brooks moved its operations to Indiana years later, but the big bottle stayed. A local preservation group restored it in 1995, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits about two miles south of the nearest alignment of Route 66 at Beltline Road in Collinsville. However, it remains a favorite side trip for many Route 66 travelers.

Old McLean depot features model train shop November 19, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation, Railroad.
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A few days ago, a listing in the Bloomington Pantagraph announced that the McLean Depot Train Shop had opened at 200 E. Dixie Road (aka Route 66) in the old railroad depot building in McLean, Ill.

If another old railroad depot on Route 66 had been converted to a business of selling model trains, I’m not aware of it.

According to the McLean Depot Train Shop’s website, the business marked its first anniversary on Nov. 15. But apparently the depot has seen a number of improvements since it reopened:

The depot is fixed up, the train order signals are fully functional, a layout is in planning for the east room and lots of books to peruse. So come by and talk trains. 

According to the site:

McLean Depot was built in 1853 as the Chicago & Mississippi railroad built north from Springfield to Bloomington. One of the oldest wood depots in Illinois, it has withstood the ravages of time and weather to now house a model trainshop. The former GM&O Alton Route depot overlooks old Route 66 across from the Dixie Truckers Home in McLean, Illinois.

Renovations began in late summer 2010. The main site also is asking for old photos of the depot.

Hours at McLean Depot Train Shop are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The phone number is 309-244-5900.

A look inside a historic gas station in Depew November 12, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Preservation.
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For years, we’d seen a long-closed gas station along the 1926 alignment of Route 66 in downtown Depew, Okla. Drive belts and other automotive parts could be seen through the windows, like it’d been frozen in time from another era.

Last weekend, while cruising past the station, we saw a man unlock the gas station’s front door and go inside. We did a quick U-turn and investigated.

The man’s name is Scotty Orr, who moved from the Dallas area a few years ago to Depew. He didn’t own the station, but is leasing it for his boat-restoration business. On this day, he was repainting wheels, but was happy to show us around inside.

Orr said the station was long known as Gimmel’s Auto Service (or Gemmill’s Auto Parts, as it’s listed in a Depew history book from 2001).

Once inside, it became apparent why the long-neglected property had held up so well. The station’s solid stone walls, which aren’t quickly apparent from the front, make the structure as solid as a fortress.

This is the original lettering of a hand-painted sign on one inside stone wall of the station; note the backwards “N” is consistent throughout:

Here’s an original tire rack on another wall:

The shop also came with its original parts cabinet:

And remember those belts that I was talking about? They’re still there, albeit moved inside with an original Texaco credit sign:

Orr also keeps a few other relics in the building, including a small soda bottle collection. Orr says he’ll soon put a new roof on the building, which ought to give the structure many more years of life.

Orr said he’d he pleased to show Route 66 tourists around in the shop if you call 972-489-4883 to make arrangements.

Historic Albuquerque theater gets $1 million donation November 11, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Theaters.
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The Hiland Theatre in Albuquerque received a $1 million donation from a foundation to help restore the historic theater along Central Avenue (aka Route 66), according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The gift came from the Sydney & Andrew Davis Foundation. With that, the National Dance Institute of New Mexico has received $10.5 million of the $13 million needed to renovate the building, the newspaper said.

The first phase of construction is already complete, and 350 to 400 children now use five dance studios at the site after school and on Saturdays. The initial work included office space, locker rooms and restrooms.

The second phase – work is under way now – includes renovating the main theater space. […]

The National Dance Institute, a nonprofit group, says its work helps students learn about nutrition, fitness and good school habits.

Andrew Davis was moved to see children from diverse backgrounds perform together through the dance programs. According to the New Mexico Business Weekly:

He urged attendees to experience the emotion of seeing 500 children from all kinds of backgrounds dancing at an NDI event.

“They’re happy and doing something as a unit, a team,” he said. “After you [see] this, you won’t just want to be a donor, you’ll beg to be.”

CinemaTreasures.org says the Hiland opened in 1950 and showed its final movie in 1995.

A blast of steam from the past at Tucumcari November 6, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Preservation, Railroad.

The Route 66 town of Tucumcari, N.M., got a rare treat — the Union Pacific Railroad’s “Living Legend” No. 844 steam engine making a stop at during the dedication and reopening of its historic train depot.

Tucumcari was the first stop for the historic steam engine. The ongoing restoration of the depot is Tucumcari MainStreet’s first project in a long-term plan to restore downtown.

Richard Talley, reporting that hundreds attended the event, observed this:

There were fire artists, fire dancers, an old fashioned brass band and more, well into the night over there. A large Route 66 photography exhibit was on display in depot building itself, I believe about 100 large prints from all across Route 66. It was great fun, a once in a lifetime experience with the Centennial Celebration, and people with fond memories of the depot’s heyday, came from all over the state. Not only was the train significant in building Tucumcari from 1901, but the depot you see today, and now once again open for all to enjoy, was built in 1926 when Route 66 was commissioned. […]

Rumor has it, this will now become an annual event, including having the Union Pacific come through each year!

The steam engine is making its way across New Mexico and Arizona, as both states are celebrating their centennials.

Here’s a great video of the steam engine, barreling toward Tucumcari from Logan, N.M. The 844 doesn’t just lumber along at a moderate speed:

Here’s a look inside the steam engine’s cab:

Here’s the train leaving Tucumcari:

UPDATE 11/9/2011: Here are two more videos that have popped up. Here’s the 844 steaming along Route 66 near Santa Rosa, N.M.:

And here’s the train near Tucumcari:

Both high-definition videos are by Dan Barker and Skip Weythman.

(Photo courtesy of Kevin Mueller)

Old gas station converted into art gallery November 5, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Gas stations, Preservation.
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A former Sinclair gas station that was built in 1923 in Cuba, Mo., has been converted into the Spirals Gallery & Studio, according to a story in the Cuba Free Press.

Merry Brewer Cloer and her husband Adam renovated the “ramshackle” Don’s Sinclair Station at 502 E. Washington Blvd. (aka Route 66). Spirals opened in mid-October.

“My dream was to have a bed and breakfast in some beautiful setting that would inspire me to paint or whatever. Adam wanted to build and restore classic cars,” she said. In August, Adam became the shop manager for Classic Autoworks in Rolla, and he calls it his dream job. Merry’s dream took a less direct route.

“Our house was overflowing with our projects, so I was trying to find a storage building,” she said. “We lived just a block from this dilapidated building, and I got to wondering about it. I tracked down the owner and asked to see it and agreed to buy it to use as a storage building. After Adam looked at it, he said that it would need a lot of structural work to make it useable, so we started to fix it up. Things have just ‘spiraled’ since then and been so much fun.” […]

Although the building was pretty run down, there were a few unique aspects. On the sides of the building there is mother-of-pearl shell inlayed in the concrete. Inside, you will see the front wall of the station, with its mother-of- pearl inlay preserved. It was covered in grime and layers of paint. Now, it sparkles in the light. The original columns for the station still stand guard outside the front entrance.

Merry will sell her own works, plus offer space to local artists on a consignment basis. Adam says he plans to display and sell a few classic cars near the gallery, as a way to add to the Route 66 atmosphere.

The Spirals Gallery can be found on Facebook here, with plenty of photos. Merry also is asking for any information about the history of the Sinclair station.

A closer look at Lincoln’s Ghost Bridge November 2, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Ghosts and Mysteries, Preservation, Restaurants.
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Alas, the Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review didn’t post this until after the event. But this video shows the legendary Ghost Bridge of Route 66 in Lincoln, Ill., and the Ghost Bridge Walk that became a fundraiser for The Mill in Lincoln.

Former Firestone station will reopen Nov. 21 November 1, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Gas stations, Preservation.
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The former Bristow Firestone Service Station building on Route 66 in Bristow, Okla., will hold its grand reopening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 21, according to a news release from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

At noon that day, officials from the program will present a plaque to owner Jack Longacre, who has restored the 1930 building at 321 N. Main St. and will operate it as Bristow Body Shop.

The Bristow Firestone Service Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and recently received a $25,000 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

From the release:

With a vision and penchant for historical accuracy, Longacre completed a meticulous restoration of the station. The ambitious project included restoration of the original windows and glass pane overhead doors; structural and masonry repairs; and restoration of the sign in historic Firestone styling. The building will continue its legacy of auto-related service by operating as an auto-body repair shop, thus preserving a local treasure and tangible link to the American icon, historic Route 66.

According to the news release, the building also hosted Kerr-McGee, Phillips 66, and Mobil gas stations. It stopped selling gas by the 1990s.

Refreshments will be served during the reopening, and the public is invited to tour the building. More about the restoration project can be read here.

Boots Motel volunteer day set to mark Route 66’s birthday October 27, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.

NOTE: The date of the work day has been changed from Friday, Nov. 11, to Saturday, Nov. 12, in an effort to gain more participation.

The new owners of the Boots Motel in Carthage, Mo., have set Saturday, Nov. 12, as a volunteer day to help clean and read the Route 66 landmark for winter.

Nov. 11 marks the 85th anniversary of when Route 66 was certified as a U.S. highway.

The news release by the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce explains:

This very special event will be exclusive to the volunteers. The event will begin at 8 am with coffee, hot chocolate and donuts. At 9 am, volunteers will begin working, which will consist of basic cleaning, patching and caulking that will help protect the buildings against the coming winter. The media is also invited to attend.

At noon, lunch will be donated and provided by several local restaurants, along with coffee, hot chocolate and sodas. At 3 p.m. the work ends and the birthday party begins with a cake cutting and a “toast” to the Mother Road. In addition to the cake, ice cream and other refreshments will be provided.

Volunteers will receive a Certificate of Appreciation and a letter for future credit towards a stay at the motel or another gift of their choosing. They will also receive a free membership in the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce. Twenty-five volunteer applicants will be signed-up on a first-come basis, and will need to submit a basic registration form that may be downloaded at www.bootsmotel.com. Volunteers and event sponsors will also receive a free membership in the Route 66 Chamber which includes a free ad in the chamber’s website in return for their support of this volunteer event.

I think marking Route 66’s birthday by helping preserve one of its most historic motels is a terrific way to mark the occasion.

Two sisters purchased the motel a few weeks ago, and plan to restore it to its 1949 splendor.


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