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The rebirth of Tulsa’s 11th Street September 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Restaurants, Towns.
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KTUL-TV in Tulsa recently did this story about the “rebirth” of 11th Street in town, known as Tulsa’s Route 66.

KTUL.com – Tulsa, Oklahoma – News, Weather

We’ve dutifully reported about many of these businesses — including Ike’s Chili — moving to the more-prominent alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa. I was a bit saddened Ike’s moved from the older Route 66 alignment of Admiral Place, which has a few of its own charms. But if such a move provides greater assurance for the century-old Oklahoma landmark restaurant, I’m all for it.

And I suspect more businesses will follow to the 11th Street corridor. Lots of space is available, and the more tourists talk favorably of 11th Street, the more tourists eventually will follow.

(Image of decorative brick inlays along 11th Street in Tulsa by Don Thornhill via Flickr)

Southwest Missouri county will dedicate three historic sites September 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Events, Motels, Preservation, Signs.
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The Greene County Historic Sites Board on Saturday will dedicate three locations west of Springfield, Missouri, along Route 66 as historic sites, reported the Springfield News-Leader.

One of the ceremonies will include a lightning ceremony for a restored neon sign at a former tourist cabin complex.

The sites are:

  • Barnes Town & Country, 8240 W. Highway 266, formerly known as the Barnes General Store.
  • Main Street Feeds, 8270 W. Highway 266, formerly known as Barnes Feed Mill.
  • R&S Memorial Decorations, 9323 W. Highway 266, formerly known as Graystone Heights Modern Cabins, built in 1935. The ceremony will include a lighting ceremony for the restoration of the cabins’ original sign between 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday. You can see an image of the restored sign here.

Other historic sites along Route 66 in that area are Bennett one-room school, Clearwater Angus Farm, Yeakley Chapel, and the ghost town of Plano.

R&S owners John and Alexa Schweke, who are restoring at least two of the cabins, said they were inspired by the movie “Cars”:

In fact, seeing that movie is what got him started thinking about the importance of his property’s history, including the demise of little businesses like Graystone Heights after interstates replaced Route 66.

“It didn’t really hit me and hit my heart until I saw that movie,” he said.

Two years ago, the Schwekes joined the Route 66 Association and got the ball rolling for their property’s designation as a Greene County Historic Landmark and for restoration of the original sign.

All of those sites are within a short drive of each other, on a nice stretch of old 66 that veers away from the interstate and provides a glimpse of the past.

UPDATE 9/15/2014: Swa Frantzen, owner of the first Route 66 site on the Internet, happened to be traveling in the region that weekend and snapped this photo of the restored Graystone Heights Modern Cabins sign:

(Image of Greystone Heights Modern Cabins courtesy of 66Postcards.com)

Old gas station will be converted into a barbershop September 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Preservation.
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A reputed former Sinclair gas station in Springfield, Missouri, soon will reopen as a barbershop and waxing studio later this fall, reported the News-Leader newspaper.

The station is just a few hundred feet south of the College Street alignment of Route 66.

Dacy and Ryan Mulcahy agreed to buy the station at 640 W. Walnut St. from Jeff Schrag, founder and owner of the nearby Mother’s Brewing Co., which took its name from one of Route 66’s nickname, the Mother Road. Here’s a Google Street View image of the station:

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More details from the newspaper:

Rogue Barber Co. will feature classic barber techniques like straight razor shaving by Ryan, a licensed barber who studied at Academy of Hair Design. The business will also include a waxing salon run by Dacy, a photographer and licensed aesthetician and massage therapist. They may later add a cosmetologist, she said, for women’s cuts. [...]

The Mulcahys initially looked for space in the heart of downtown. A friend suggested they check out the old filling station, Dacy said. With renewed interest in Route 66, one block over, and location, “we got a feel for the direction my husband wanted to go with the decor and the vibe of the building. We are super happy it all worked out,” Dacy said.

Plans include selling Route 66 items and a line of personal products, perhaps a soap made with Mother’s beer.

The Mulcahys plan to keep the building’s vintage look, as shown by an artist’s rendering of the renovated station.

Another Broadway building in Los Angeles revived September 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Preservation.
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The long-declining Schulte United Department Store building in Los Angeles’ downtown Broadway district has been extensively renovated and reopened as Broadway Arts Tower, reported L.A. Downtown News.

The Schulte building opened in 1928 at 529 S. Broadway as a department store with a huge cafeteria. Schulte United went bust four decades later, and the building saw a string of various tenants, but nothing on its upper floors.

This Google Street View image from June doesn’t show the building in its fully restored glory, but it was getting there:

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The news site details how it was revived:

The Schulte United building was acquired in July 2012 for about $3 million, according to Michael Treadway, property manager and financial officer for the building. He would not identify the buyer, who also purchased and rehabbed the nearby Spring Arts Tower.

Work started in late 2012 and was completed last month.

“The owner likes a challenge, and he saw the potential of turning this building into a mini version of the Spring Arts Tower,” Treadway said. Referring to the street-enhancing effort propelled by 14th District City Councilman José Huizar, he added, “It also made sense because of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative and everything happening in the neighborhood.”

The $2 million renovation included restoring the original facade, which had been covered, and its grand staircase inside. The Broadway Arts Tower website contains several photos of the renovations. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.

For years, Broadway in downtown L.A. served as the western terminus of Route 66 until it was extended to Santa Monica. That section of town is seeing a nice revival after many years of decline.

(Hat tip: Scott Piotrowski)

Historic Seligman Sundries changes owners September 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, People, Preservation, Restaurants.
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A couple from Flagstaff, Arizona, took over ownership Friday of the Historic Seligman Sundries coffee shop and souvenir store on Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona, from longtime proprietors Frank and Lynn Kocevar.

Thomas Muetzel and Ursula “Uschi” Fuchs, who were regular customers for about four years, plan no big changes for the business. The Kocevars plan to hang around for another 30 days or so, assisting the couple in the transition.

The Kocevars posted an announcement on the Facebook page about the handover Friday afternoon:

It all began with 2 years of renovations on the iconic but deteriorating, 110-year old Seligman Sundries building that would be brought back to life after being closed for a number of years. Over the past 10 years, owning, renovating and operating Historic Seligman Sundries has been a truly rewarding experience for us. The friendships we’ve developed are invaluable and will be treasured always.

But there comes a day when it’s time to move on to new adventures, and today is the day. Historic Seligman Sundries welcomes Uschi and Thomas, friends for the past four years, as its new owner/operators. We look forward to assisting our friends in maintaining the atmosphere and history that make Historic Seligman Sundries a landmark in Seligman and working with them to help foster a smooth transition.

As we enthusiastically begin a new journey to explore all that life has to offer, from our home in Seligman to wherever our Route 66 travels take us, we want to convey our heartfelt gratitude and say “thank you” to all of you who have supported and befriended us over the past 10 years. Meeting and greeting you from behind the counter was a wonderful way to begin friendships, but coming out from behind that counter and actually traveling the same roads and attending the same events as you will be an even nicer way to nurture those friendships. Welcome, Uschi and Thomas! And to all our friends and family on Route 66 and around the world … watch out, here we come.

Contacted by phone Saturday, Kocevar said the opportunity presented itself earlier this summer.

“About three months ago, they asked us to contact us if we ever thought about selling,” he said. “We thought the business needed some new energy; it needs some new life.”

Kocevar said he and Lynn have no firm plans to retire and may look for a new venture. But first, they want to explore the Mother Road that brought them so much business and memories over the past decade.

“We want to explore Route 66 from a different viewpoint,” he said. “We want to be able to do a lot of different things, such as drive a car in the (Arizona Route 66) Fun Run. We greatly enjoyed what we did at Seligman Sundries, but we weren’t able to get away because we had to run the business. We have cyberfriends all over the country we’d see once a year; we want to be able to visit them.”

The Historic Seligman Sundries building opened in 1904 and remains one of the oldest in town. Over the years, it has served as a theater, dance hall, trading post and soda fountain. It even hosted high school graduations during the early years of Seligman. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

The above photo of the Kocevars handing over the large key to the couple was a key-making sign hanging near Historic Seligman Sundries’ front door.

“We were going to hand over the keys, and thought of that big key sign to hand over instead for the photo,” Kocevar said, chuckling.

(Image courtesy of Frank Kocevar)

Maple sirup and blue whales August 31, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, People.
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Since vacation, I’m getting caught up on KC Keefer’s latest videos on his Genuine Route 66 Life series. One that I missed was an interview with Glaida Funk, matriarch of the historic Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup business on Route 66 in Funks Grove, Illinois.

The second is an interview with Linda Hobbs, a volunteer at the gift shop for Route 66’s iconic Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma. She details some of the restoration of the adjacent grounds that once housed a children’s zoo.

Longtime Route 66 museum curator Wanda Queenan dies August 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Museums, People.
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Wanda Queenan, 91, longtime currator of the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, and co-owner of the now-closed Queenan’s Indian Trading Post on Route 66 on the edge of town, has died, according to her daughter.

Kiesau-Lee Funeral Home in Clinton, Oklahoma, is in charge of arrangements. I’ll post more information about the funeral as soon as I get it.

Wanda and her husband, Reese, built Queenan’s Indian Trading Post on Route 66 on Elk City’s west side in 1948. According to Michael Wallis’ book about Oklahoma, “Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation”:

For many years the Queenans offered tourists a selection of Indian pottery, beadwork, jewelry, and rugs, and also sold supplies to Indians who lived in the region. Although her husband died in 1962, Wanda stayed on and kept the trading post open. But when the interstate came and the oil patch went sour, business at the trading post suffered. Wanda stopped buying and sold out her remaining stock.

“We didn’t get rich, but this trading post was something we really loved,” says Wanda. “It was great fun out her on Route 66.”

One of the survivors of the trading post — a 14-foot-tall kachina doll made of oil drums and scrap metal from a local Indian named Johnny Grayfish in 1962 and nicknamed Myrtle — was renovated and donated to the National Route 66 Museum in 1990, where it stands sentinel today.


Queenan became the museum’s curator about that time and was often seen greeting customers in the gift shop.

UPDATE: Funeral information. Worth reading, but here are some excerpts:

Funeral Services for Wanda Queenan, 91, Clinton resident will be held 10:00 Tuesday, August 26,2014 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latte-Day-Saints, officiated by Bishop Dan Turner. Burial will follow in the Elk City Cemetery under the direction of the Kiesau-Lee funeral Home. [...]

Wanda never seemed to think she accomplished that much. She is only an icon of the Mother Road, friend of historian Michael Wallis who has written many books and filmed documentaries of Rt. 66 which have included Wanda, She is the character of Lizzie in Cars. John Lasseter Pixar Director has consulted Wanda for her views and life story on the Mother Road; look at the end of the credits, you’ll see her name there! If you Google her, there’s her picture. Look at the museum grounds you will see the two giant totem poles Myrtle and Yatahey (aka Don’t Shoot Me, I’ll Marry your daughter) that once stood proudly on the grounds of the trading post. They were purchased by the city of Elk City when the Route 66 museum was coming to fruition. Myrtle is an international celebrity along with Wanda who has been interviewed by International and National organizations extensively. [...]

Quote from JACK starring Robin Williams-
I don’t have very much time these days so I’ll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.

(Hat tip to Michael Wallis; photos courtesy of Guy Randall, K. Latham and 66Postcards.com)

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