2012 NPS Route 66 Cost-Share Grant Award Announcement

July 14, 2012

From the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program:

“We are pleased to announce the 2012 National Park Service, Route 66
Corridor Preservation Program Cost-share Grant Awards. The next grant cycle will be open from January to March, 2013.”

Awarded projects:

Hualapai Tribal Route 66 Interpretive Project – Arizona

Flagstaff Route 66 Rest Area Interpretive Project – Arizona

Historic L Motel Rehabilitation – Arizona

Sprague Super Service Window and Door Restoration – Illinois

Boots Motel Roof Restoration – Missouri

Crestwood Bowl Neon Restoration Project – Missouri

Wagon Wheel Motel Roof Replacement – Missouri

Circle Cinema Theatre Façade Restoration – Oklahoma

El Vado Motel Neon Sign Restoration – New Mexico

Del’s Restaurant Electrical Upgrades – New Mexico

Read the entire report here: 2012 NPS Route 66 Cost-Share Grant Award Announcement

Boots Motel Makes Society for Commercial Archeology Most Endangered List

April 22, 2011

From a huge fiberglass Santa statue in Haubstadt, Indiana; to a neon diving lady in Mesa, Arizona; to perhaps the largest collection of mid-century motels in Wildwoods, New Jersey; to a sprawling Western-themed motel in Oxnard, California, bulldozed a month before being listed, many of America’s iconic roadside places are threatened.

The Society for Commercial Archeology announces its 2011 Falling by the Wayside, a list of the ten most endangered roadside places in the United States.

1.     Airplane Filling Station, Knoxville, Tennessee

2.     Bartles-Maguire/Wadhams Service Station, Waukesha, Wisconsin

3.     Boots Motel, Carthage, Missouri

4.     Buckhorn Baths, Mesa, Arizona

5.     Diving Lady, Mesa, Arizona

6.     Doo Wop Motels, the Wildwoods, New Jersey

7.     Giant Santa, Haubstadt, Indiana

8.     Premiere Lanes Sign, Santa Fe Springs, California

9.     Roundtop Filling Station, Sherwood, Arkansas

10.  Wagon Wheel Motel, Oxnard, California (destroyed)

These places are all marked by threats which can include natural weathering, economic hardship, neglect, abandonment, inappropriate zoning, lack of maintenance, demolition and even a setback to preserve a historic roadside place. The list showcases the diversity of roadside places and highlights the issues and challenges facing the preservation of these important resources.

The Society for Commercial Archeology (SCA) established the Falling by the Wayside program in 2010 to raise awareness of the importance of roadside places throughout the United States.

“Our goal is to focus public attention on the unique character and historical importance of our nation’s roadside commercial architecture—and the factors that challenge their long-term preservation,” says Nancy Sturm, co-president of the organization. Along with the attention, SCA will help property owners connect with local, state and federal preservation programs. And for one place, the Diving Lady of Mesa, Arizona, SCA is making a $250 contribution to the help the sign’s restoration.

Established in 1977, the SCA is the oldest national organization devoted to the buildings, artifacts, structures, signs, and symbols of the 20th-century commercial landscape. The SCA offers publications, conferences, and tours to help preserve, document, and celebrate the structures and architecture of the 20th century: diners, highways, gas stations, drive-in theaters, bus stations, tourist courts, neon signs, and more.

For more information http://www.sca-roadside.org/

Click here for a Google map of this year’s endangered places:


Additional Information on Endangered Places:

Airplane Filling Station, 6817 Clinton Highway (U.S. 25W), Knoxville, TN

Located on the side of the busy Clinton Highway, northeast of Knoxville, the Airplane Filling Station catches the eye of passing motorists. Elmer and Henry Nickle built the plane-shaped gas station in 1930 along the newly widened U.S. 25, the Dixie Highway with that just in mind. Just missing its propeller and landing wheels, the “Airplane Filling Station” looks similar to Charles Lindbergh’s famous Spirit of St. Louis. But the practicality of a plane-shaped building eventually limited the use of the property, which stopped selling gas in the 1960s. The building took on new uses over the years—a liquor store, used car dealership—as it wood elements deteriorated. Formed in 2003 as a nonprofit to preserver the building, the Airplane Filling Station Preservation Association is slowly restoring the “airplane.” Although the first phase to purchase and stabilize the structure is complete, the economic downturn delayed further work. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, it is the only example of mimetic architecture in the state, and is arguably one the best surviving of its type in the nation. While not in immediate danger, money must be raised to continue to restore this one-of-a-kind roadside property.

Contact: Rock Bernard, Airplane Filling Station Preservation Association, (865) 933-7158


Bartles-Maguire/Wadhams Service Station, 422 E. Broadway, Waukesha, WI

Located along East Broadway in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the Bartles-Maguire Oil Company service station opened in 1929 in a Tudor Revival “house” style gas station, featuring a brick chimney and prominent gables. The gas station went through a series of owners and different uses, mostly recently a car rental. In May 2010 the YMCA purchased the vacant building, with the intention of tearing it down for parking. In reaction, the property was designated a Local Landmark in July 2010. The YMCA appealed the designation to the Waukesha Administrative Review Appeals board, which upheld the landmark listing in January 2011. A month later, the YMCA announced they would put the gas station up for sale. A provision in the City of Waukesha’s Landmarks Ordinance allows an owner of a historically designated property to petition to have the listed rescinded, if after making a good faith effort, the property does not sell. If the petition is made, the Waukesha Landmarks Commission will have 60 days to find a buyer; failing that, the designation will be removed. With a letter from the YMCA stating they plan to petition for rescission, the future of this historic gas station in jeopardy.

Contact: Mary Emery, (262) 547-8364



Boots Motel, 107 S Garrison Avenue (old US 66), Carthage, Missouri

Built in 1939, by Arthur G. Boots, the Streamline Moderne-influenced motel, with its once distinct pink and green neon, evolved into a Route 66 icon. After Arthur’s wife, Ilda Boots, passed away, the motel sold several times. The most recent owner tried to negotiate a deal with Walgreens to build a new store on the property. Route 66 advocates and community members rallied to save the motel from demolition. Walgreens decided to build elsewhere, and while the motel remains, its maintenance has ceased and is now used for long-term rentals. Damaged by a storm, its broken neon dangles from the building; the vacancy sign on the office reads only “ANCY.” The property is again for sale. Ron Hart of the Carthage-based Route 66 Chamber of Commerce is looking into a way to purchase the property to preserve it as a vintage motel, and potentially a museum. But until that happens, the future of this Route 66 landmark is unknown.

Contact: Ron Hart, Route 66 Chamber of Commerce, (417)385-6966


Buckhorn Baths, 5900 East Main Street (old U.S. 60/70/80)1, Mesa, Arizona

Designated in the 2010 Falling by the Wayside list, the Buckhorn Baths is again listed due recent developments.

Preservationists became alarmed in November, 2010 when Alice Sliger, the 103-year-old owner of the Buckhorn Baths, died. With her death, the future of Mesa, Arizona’s famous roadside oasis became murky. Many predicted the motel would be sold and razed for redevelopment. But a group of preservationists came together to save the property. The newly formed non-profit Mesa Preservation Foundation, with the help of other local preservationists, will encourage the city to buy the Buckhorn and manage it as a cultural asset. “We hope to fulfill Alice Sliger’s desire to keep alive the legacy of what the Buckhorn gave to the community,” says Vic Linoff, president of the foundation. If the city agrees to acquire the property, the foundation will assist in raising funds to restore the motel and Ted Sliger’s taxidermy museum, which contains the largest collection of display animals in Arizona. The foundation is currently in the process of appraising the property as a first step to potential city acquisition. Buckhorn Baths opened in 1939 at the site of a hot mineral well. In 1947, the New York Giants moved their spring training camp to the area, and were frequented users of the baths. The motel closed in 1999. In 2007, the Arizona Preservation Foundation included the property on the Arizona’s Most Endangered Historic Places list.

Contact: Vic Linoff, Mesa Preservation Foundation, (480) 967-4729



Doo Wop Motels, the Wildwoods, New Jersey (Wildwood, North Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest)

Potentially the largest collection of mid-century modern motels in the United States, the Doo Wop Motels of the Wildwoods, New Jersey, are threatened. Despite their photogenic popularity, the area comprising the “Motels of the Wildwoods” has lost nearly 50% of its vintage motels since the late 1990s. Real estate development and speculation has resulted in demolition of nearly 100 motels, including the notable Casa Bahama Motel, while others, such as the Singapore Motel, have undergone significant renovation, undermining their original appearance. The local government does not recognize the Doo Wop Historic District and there are no ordinances to prevent demolition or unsympathetic renovations. While chronicled in books and dozens of websites, without a preservation ordinance to protect them, the long-term future of these eye-catching motels is unknown.

Contact: Dan Mac Elrevey, Doo Wop Preservation League, (609)-523-1958


Diving Lady, Starlite Motel, 2710 E. Main Street (old U.S. 60/70/80), Mesa, Arizona

The “Diving Lady” is an animated, three-part neon sign of a woman diving into electric blue water. A local landmark, she could be seen making her plunge at least two miles in each direction from her home at the Starlite Motel on Main Street. But October 5, 2010, a severe storm sent her crashing to the ground, shattering the sign’s neon and twisting its metal. The recently formed Mesa Preservation Foundation is working with the owner and a neon sign shop to restore the sign. The restoration will be costly—$60,000-70,000. Already the middle figure of the sign has been restored and is on display at a Mesa shopping mall. The foundation is hoping national attention will help fundraising to complete restoration and reinstallation of this famous lady. As part of the 2011 Falling by the Wayside listing, the Society for Commercial Archeology is contributing $250 to assist the restoration.

Contact: Vic Linoff, Mesa Preservation Foundation, (480) 967-4729


Giant Santa, 516 Ruffian Way (U.S. 41), Haubstadt, Indiana

With his left his left arm outstretched, the Giant Santa once greeted cars and trucks pulling into the Busler Truck Stop, a discount gas station and 24-hour restaurant off U.S. 41, north of Evansville. But with the gas station now closed—its pump islands and restaurant sealed off by a string of limestone boulders—Santa waves to no one. Measuring at least 30 feet, the fiberglass Santa Claus statue is one of the tallest in the United States. With no maintenance, the statue paint has faded and his body is now home to hundreds of pigeons. The property for sale and prime redevelopment, the fate of this huge St. Nick is problematic.

Contact: Debra Jane Seltzer, Agilitynut, (347) 526-9825


Premiere Lanes Sign, 13210 Telegraph Road, Santa Fe Springs, California

A burst of blue and red stars, the Premiere Lanes sign sits orphaned on a cleared lot, its advertised namesake demolished for redevelopment. Revealing the spirit of the space age, the sign is adorned with nine “sputnik” forms. Tall with a huge signboard, the sign, though for sale, is too big to be tucked away in a museum. With no local preservation ordinance to protect it, it is likely it will be dismantled and parted, with its sputniks going into private ownership. Premiere Lanes, a prominent regional bowling center, and once home to a chapter of the Japanese-American Citizens League, closed in 2008. While there are several dozen space-age signs across the United States, perhaps none have more sputniks or is of its scale.

Contact: Debra Jane Seltzer, Agilitynut, (347) 526-9825


Roundtop Filling Station, intersection of Roundtop and Trammel roads (old U.S. 67), Sherwood, Arkansas

It’s a Hansel and Gretel fairytale building surrounded by an acre of asphalt. Constructed in 1936 for the Pierce Oil Company, the Roundtop Filling Station was designed in the mimetic style, taking on the look of a giant mushroom. Being situated on U.S. 67 between Little Rock and St. Louis, the gas station saw a steady stream of traffic for nearly 50 years. When bypassed by a new highway in the 1970s, the storybook gas station lost its business. For years it sat abandoned, stripped of its pumps, sign and lights. In 2008, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The City of Sherwood, its owner, hopes to preserve the fairytale building, and is looking for grants to repair its partially torn off roof, broken windows and door. But until then, the mushroom-shaped former service station sits vacant.

Contact: Ralph Wilcox, (501) 324-9880



Wagon Wheel Motel, 2751-2755 Wagon Wheel Road (U.S. 101), Oxnard, California
The Wagon Wheel Motel, a ranch house-like motel of turquoise board and batten board buildings and decorative wagon wheels, once sprawled across its site. The motel came about when Oxnard booster and real estate developer, Martin “Bud” Smith, bought an old hog farm and moved in surplus Seabee barracks from nearby Port Hueneme, arranging them in “U” shape to create a motel court. To give the place a ranch look, Smith reportedly hired Roy Beatty, a Hollywood set designer to desing the wrought-iron lamp fixtures and the decorative rustic furniture once found in each room. During its heyday, the Wagon Wheel was a local fixture and prominent stop on U.S. 101. But over the years it lost its customers, closed and became a boarded up eyesore. When word got out that the motel could be demolished for a mixed-use commercial project, local preservation groups rallied to save the property. The San Buenaventura Conservancy filed an appeal to stop demolition under the California Environmental Quality, arguing that preservation of a small two acre portion of the motel and restaurant was feasible, given the size of the 64-acre project. But on March 17, an appellate court upheld a lower-court ruling permitting demolition. The Wagon Wheel Motel and associated buildings were demolished a week later. There is no foreseeable date as to when redevelopment will start, as the project sponsor is waiting for the economy to recover.

Contact: San Buenaventura Conservancy, (805) 652-1000


Ron Hart Speaks Out About the Boots Motel

April 19, 2011

Growing-up in Joplin, MO., I had many opportunities to visit the town of Carthage, about 20 miles to our north-east. At that time, Carthage was known as “the Crossroads of America” because of the two major highways that intersected it, Highway 71 running north and south, and Route 66, east to west.

My high school basketball and football teams often traveled to compete with the Carthage High School, and afterwards, we would all pay a visit to the Boots Drive-In on Garrison Street. The Route 66 Drive-In theater was a bit of a drive for us Joplin kids, as we already had the Tri-State, the Crest and the Webb City Drive-In movies, and sadly they are all gone today.

Many years later, I began to learn about Joplin’s Route 66 history, and about all the places that fed, fueled and lodged the travelers that passed through our communities, and today, precious few remain as reminders of times gone by. And this story is also being told in nearly every community that once claimed a Route 66 heritage.

In Carthage, the once popular and famous Boots Motel has become a low-rent weekly rooming house. Purchased a few years ago, and intended to be “flipped” for more money by a local contractor, the economy has kept the property in limbo.

I my opinion, the property has been sitting used and abused for too long now. Word is that the owner is now anxious to be rid of the Motel, as is his bank that holds the note. This could be a good thing if someone jumps in and makes an offer, or it could be a bad thing if another non-preservation minded developer scoops it up first.

I believe that Jim Hunter, the Pro 100 realtor who represents the seller, is a preservation minded person who would personally like to see the motel restored and re-opened to the public, and has expressed his willingness to help with any effort to acquire and preserve the Motel property. At my request, he will be talking to the bank holding the mortgage, local civic groups and possible benefactors, and others whose support will be needed. He will also arrange for an inspector to look at the buildings and report on any potential big problems. Next comes an appraisal that I have been told could lower the value by nearly half of the selling price. With some support behind me, I hope that the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce could possibly be able to get the property for around $150 thousand. This includes the “owner’s” house.

I am probably the least likely person to be doing this. My wife and I are surviving on our Social Security and a little side work, and I have spent a lot of time and money on building the Chamber in the process, but I do have a passion for saving this Route 66 icon because I know how quickly it can disappear if no one steps-up to get the ball rolling.

My background work has been in tourism marketing, sales, public relations, advertising and promotions….all no longer in much demand due to the economy, but sorely needed by businesses on the Mother Road. I also attended O.S.U. majoring in Construction Technology. Best of all, my wife and I have been full-time RV’ing for the past 9 years, so we could move onto the property and get to work right away on preventive maintenance and grant applications. Since I was born and raised in Joplin and have a strong family history in the area, that should help keep me from being labeled an “outsider”.

Back to the big gorilla sitting in the room, the economy. Times have been hard for Route 66 businesses these past few years, so I don’t plan on tapping them for donations. I believe the Carthage community will participate as they stand to reap the benefits, and they certainly need to learn more about the diamond-in-the-rough they have in the Boots Motel and in the Route 66 corridor that kept their town alive during the great depression.

What I could use from 66′rs will be cards, letters and e-mails of support for the preservation of the Boots Motel, no matter who purchases it. My proposal will be the very first to be submitted since the property went on the market several years ago. I hope that it will make a statement that the friends of Route 66 care for it’s history, and will do anything they can to preserve it.

An outline on the Boots Project may be found at the Chamber’s website, www.visit66.com, with a link on the Homepage. There is also a “Save the Boots Motel” Facebook page for progress updates. Thanks.

Ron Hart -Director
Route 66 Chamber of Commerce
417-385-6966 or visit66@yahoo.com


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