After suffering three conflagrations in four months, and facing pressure by city officials, the Desert Sands Motor Hotel, 5000 Central SE (old Route 66) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has finally fallen to a demolition crew.
The motels’ first fire broke out in May 2016 having been set by an alleged arsonist who was quickly arrested. None of the sixty residents were injured in the fire but the motel was forced to close. Transients were blamed for setting the second and third fires in July and September after they broke into boarded up rooms.
When the owner of the motel did nothing, the community’s Safe City Strike Force took control of the property, calling it an unsafe, nuisance dwelling and gave the owner an October 1 deadline to either repair or demolish the structure.
The owner finally agreed to demolish the two-story motel before the year’s end. Teams handled asbestos removal in October. On December 5, workers with a hydraulic excavator and a front-end loader began the demolition and cleanup that took most of the month.
Originally constructed in 1954 by Clyde H. Tyler, and then managed by J.W. Davis, the moter hotel had sixty-three units, a swimming pool, and two private dining rooms; all had fallen into disrepair for several years.
Courtesy Keith Kofford
Visitor’s Center Receives Green Light
A new Route 66 Visitor’s Center will be constructed in Albuquerque. The community drive project will be located along far West Central Avenue. (old Route 66). The Southwest Alliance of Neighbors and the West Central Community Development Group secured the project’s $3.4 million funding from the city, county, and state governments.
The Center is intended to take advantage of historic Route 66’s mystique and the road’s sections still remaining in the Albuquerque area. Sponsors are hopeful visitors will get off Interstate 40,to Route 66, and enjoy the Mother Road and all that the city and area have to offer.
Local and state officials held a news conference and site acquisition celebration of the recently purchased five-acre tract of land on December 21, 2016. During the celebration at the site, one city official remarked that the Visitors’ Center would stimulate investments, and bring jobs and prosperity to the area and city. Another said the Center would invite tourists to get their kicks on Route 66 and visit Bernalillo County. People would also be encouraged to once again travel Central Avenue; the longest stretch of urban Route 66 still drivable.
Officials also pointed out the spectacular scenery that is seen from the Center’s location. Folks could come and park and take in views of the city, the Rio Grande Valley and neighboring mountain ranges.
There has been no word on when construction would start on the project, or when it was hoped the Center would be open for business. However, it was noted that the first phase of the construction could be done in a year.
Courtesy Keith Kofford
LED light bulbs lower energy costs and save you money, but avoid using the more expensive ones in an oven because heat destroys them. Refrigerators and freezers shorten their operating life. Some LEDs can interfere with garage door remote controls, so check the manufacturer’s website to learn which LED bulbs are compatible with your remote.
Courtesy Family Handyman Magazine
Red Carpet Corridor Festival Marks 11 Years
On May 6 and 7 of this year, the Red Carpet Corridor Festival in Illinois celebrates its 11th Year when it stretches along a 90-mile section of Old Route 66 where thirteen communities join together annually to observe the wonder and the history of the Mother Road. The Red Carpet Corridor begins in Joliet, Illinois and runs south on the highway into the town of Towanda.
Each of the communities along the Corridor has its own special event for the two-day festival; including car shows, live entertainment, lots of festival foods, free admission to some attractions, and so much more.
Folks are encouraged to visit each of the communities during the festival and are reminded to pick up a keepsake collectible at each town. In the past, the collectibles have included colorful keys; representing the 13 communities participating in the festival, a Route 66 jigsaw puzzle, wooden nickels, trading cards, postcards, and other cool trinkets. This year a free commemorative pin will be offered in each community. Be sure to collect all thirteen.
For more information on the Red Carpet Corridor Festival, go to their website: Ilroute66redcarpetcorridor.com
Courtesy Robert C. Roarty, MLIS, Ph.D.
City of Pontiac, Illinois
Berwyn Route 66 Museum Closes
The Berwyn Route 66 Museum closed its doors on November 1st, 2016, according to Jon Fey, the executive director of the museum located in the suburb southwest of Chicago. The closure occurred due to the sale of the museum’s building at 7003 W. Ogden Avenue (Route 66).
Fey hopes that a new location will eventually be found, but efforts towards that end are likely not going to be successful in the short term. “It is important to have a museum and presence on Route 66 on the north end of the state,” referring to how little effort has been done in Chicago and other local municipalities to preserve and present the history of the highway.
However, Fey’s son owns the “Superior Awards” store at 7003 W. Ogden, and he will stock Route 66 merchandise and will hand out free maps and literature to anyone who stops in beginning March 1st, 2017. As well, in a parking lot on the west side of Superior Awards, Fey intends to install a display including a mural painted on the building’s exterior wall. The display will also include a restored glass block and neon Berwyn Route 66 welcome sign. The sign once stood at the beginning of the city’s portion of the highway until it was damaged by a truck. The installation should be in place by March 1st.
The Berwyn Route 66 Museum opened is doors in 1994 as two display cases in a hallway at the Skylite Restaurant. When new owners purchased the Skylite and changed it to the Skyview, the museum display moved to Anderson Ford. It was after the car dealership closed, the museum opened at 7003 W. Ogden.
Fey said that the non-profit group, Berwyn Preservation of Historic Route 66, will continue to sponsor the Berwyn Route 66 Car Show. Since 1990, the show has taken place on eight blocks of Ogden Avenue on the Saturday after Labor Day for food, fun, and admiration of meticulously detailed rolling stock.
With its involvement in keeping the Mother Road alive, Berwyn is the closest place to the beginning of the highway in Chicago where the road culture is celebrated. Although the loss of the museum is unfortunate, Berwyn remains an important stop for fans of Route 65.
Courtesy David Clark
Information obtained from Martin Milner during a 2002 interview.
Tire & Wheel Owner Dies
Leslie “Bud” Perry, longtime owner of the Bud’s Tire & Wheel business in Springfield, Missouri, a location that is often photographed because of its Route 66 murals, died January 23, 2017 at age seventy-nine.
In 2002, Bud was inducted into the Ozark Area Racers Association, Received the Racing Pioneer Award, and in 2013 the John T. Woodruff Award, which recognizes Springfield residents contributions to Route 66. Bud loved helping numerous Charities including the ANPAC Car Show, Junebug Jamboree and Relay for Life and other charities to numerous to mention. Perry had owned Bud’s Tire & Wheel at Grant Avenue and College Street (aka Route 66) since 1958. His business was one of Springfield’s first to offer custom wheels. He welcomed visitors to his shop and invited them to take photos of those murals.
Courtesy Ron Warnickire
Donut Drive-In Gets a Facelift
On December 23, 2016, the Donut Drive-In, a long-time Route 66 fixture in the city of St. Louis, took on its original appearance with newly-replaced Plexiglas sign faces on three sides of the building.
These box signs on the building facade had been changed to very undistinguished, generic upper case letters sometime back in the 1980s; but now the original script font has been revived, concurrent with new internal electronics that will keep them brightly lit. Recurring sign outages had become a problem for the last couple years.
This renaissance was made possible by a 2016 National Park Service cost share grant through its Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. The grant application and restoration of these Plexiglas signs were facilitated by the Missouri 66 Association’s Neon Heritage Preservation Committee (NHPC), even though no neon was involved, because of the relationship established between the Donut Drive-In owners and the NHPC back in 2008, when their neon sign became the very first project for the NHPC. The beautiful neon sign still glows brightly and steadily on Chippewa Street, with its alluring animation of donuts seemingly dropping down a pole.
The historic Drive-In has served its local residents, as well as the traveling public, for sixty-four years on historic Route 66 in St. Louis. It was constructed in 1952 to serve its present purpose, on the classic corner known as “the wedge” at Chippewa Street and Watson Road. Ownership of the property would stay in the original founding family for forty-four years, until the Schwarz brothers bought the property and business from them in 1996.
The Donut Drive-In is located at 6525 Chippewa Street, and just a few blocks to the West is the world famous Ted Drewes Frozen Custard store. Together these two iconic establishments and their signage form a dynamic duo that nicely accent this short section of Route 66, making it reminiscent of the peak years of the Mother Road.
Farmersville Motel Reopens
A Route 66 icon with a history of hospitality has re-opened in Farmersville, Illinois. Art's Motel is an L-shaped, 13-room facility located on Route 66 near exit 72, just off Interstate 55. A restaurant s also located on the property.
The new owner is Krishan Jain, a 78-year-old retired highway civil engineer from Peoria, Illinois. “I'm pretty optimistic," Jain said, noting that it was the only motel along the interstate between Springfield and Carlinville. A shell station is also near the property.
Jain is aware of Art's link to historic Route 66. "I want to keep those ties as much as possible. That's why I want to get the restaurant going. It has all the equipment, and just needs some repair and handiwork." Krishan said he does not want to operate the restaurant himself, but he is offering a year-long, rent-free lease to someone who is interested in operating the cafe.
Jain said the above-average-sized rooms, showers, microwaves, televisions, small refrigerators and free Internet will make the motel appealing. Rates are $40 for a single person per night and $45-50 for a double.
The motel's iconic sign was restored to its former red, white and blue glory in 2007 by the preservation group from the Route 66 Association of Illinois.
The motel and restaurant were originally owned in 1937 when Art McAnarney leased the Hendricks Brothers Cafe and gas station. After Art's death in 1954, his sons Joe and Elmer acquired the establishment. A long list of owners followed.
For more information, call (217) 227-3030.
Courtesy Rick Wade
Loose Ends Media
Return to Odell
In 1996, a handful of ragtag dreamers had what was in that year a unique idea. They believed an old building, that was once a Standard Oil gas station, although not historically significant, should be saved. They also believed that those traveling Route 66 in the future should have the opportunity to learn of its historic value.
The little station seemed to be crying out for help. The station was propped up on one side and was on the verge of collapsing. None of the group had any real background in construction. As it turns out that probably was good, for if they knew what lay ahead they might have never begun.
The people in Odell, and virtually every one else said they were fools that didn’t know what they were doing. That much was very true. But fools are just dreamers who cannot see reality. They did not except the fact that it could not be done. Dreamers just believe that the impossible simply takes a little longer. So it began; the extremely successful restoration of the Standard Oil gas station in Odell, Illinois.
Since the restoration, hundreds of thousands of folks from around the world have visited the little station. The Route 66 Preservation committee has vowed to maintain the station and its history. Every year a large group of volunteers gather in April to spruce up the station for the thousands of visitors that are expected.
Lenore Weiss was one of the original fools who saw the magic at this minor piece of history. Sadly in 2010 she lost her battle with cancer.
In 2012, Michigan resident Craig Parrish, an admirer of the station, suggested an event that honored the station and Lenore. He envisioned a car show at the station with 100% of all proceeds donated to a cancer organization in the name of Lenore. There couldn’t be a more fitting location for this event.
With the help of the village of Odell and many volunteers, the show has grown every year. No money is spent on preparations, everything is donated. No big trophies or awards will be presented at this car show, that’s not what it is about. Numerous door prizes are given out, thanks to the generosity of many individuals and merchants. This is a “feel-good” show supported by fantastic car owners at a little gas station in the town of Odell.
When Lenore was fighting cancer she learned of the Cancer Support Center, who has facilities in Mokena and Homewood, Illinois. Every service they provide is free to all who need them. Lenore was treated with dignity and compassion. It is now our honor to give back to the center. To learn more about this organization, check out their website at www.CancerSupportCenter.org.
Time of the event is 10 am to 4 pm. (rain or shine). Come join us on Saturday May 27, 2017 and enjoy the camaraderie and fun.
I am sure Lenore is looking down on all of us with a very big smile.
Courtesy John Weiss