jump to navigation

Future of Shea’s Route 66 Museum likely won’t be known until next year October 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

What’s in store for the closed Shea’s Route 66 Museum in Springfield, Illinois, likely won’t be known until sometime early next year, reported the State Journal-Register newspaper.

The museum, long operated by former gas-station operator and gas memorabilia collector Bill Shea, closed except for appointments in late 2012 after Shea became too frail and was moved into a nursing home. Shea died at age 91 about a year later.

Bill Shea Jr. told the newspaper he now has station in his name after five months in probate court. Now that’s settled, the younger Shea said he’ll discuss the future of the property.

Nearing age 66, O’Shea Jr. said he plans to discuss the future of his father’s museum with his three adult children before making a decision. He added that there have been off-and-on discussions with city and local tourism officials about the future of one of Springfield’s biggest Route 66 tourism draws.

He said he would like to see Shea’s Route 66 Museum preserved but that he would not be part of day-to-day operations.

“I worked heavy equipment for 40 years and would go there after work,” Shea said. “It’s time to let them (his children) have it, or if they don’t want it, maybe sell it.”

Springfield had long discussed having a Route 66 visitors center at the Bel-Aire Motel, but backed away from the potential deal because of lack of money. Perhaps there’s another opportunity at Shea’s.

Bill Shea Sr. started his career in the filling-station business shortly after leaving the military in 1946 — which included being part of a harrowing D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. He owned Marathon and Texaco stations in Springfield. Shea was old enough to remember when Route 66 in Springfield was paved with bricks.

Later, Shea converted a Marathon station on Route 66 into a museum of gas-station memorabilia. It included a 1920s gas station he moved from Middletown, Illinois. Shea greeted thousands of Route 66 travelers from dozens of countries at his museum.

Shea was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993. Dec. 30, 2011, was declared Bill Shea Day in Springfield in honor of his 90th birthday.

(Image of Shea’s by Sandor Weisz via Flickr)

Fox Theatre light returns to downtown Springfield September 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Museums, Signs, Theaters.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

A replica of the Fox Theatre’s neon sign in downtown Springfield, Missouri, was installed and lighted Thursday night, reported KLOR-TV.

The relighting was part of History Museum on the Square‘s fall fundraiser. The Fox Theatre is located at 157 Park Central Square.

More from the report:

The Fox Theatre’s iconic sign was lit at 9 p.m., with Hollywood spotlights, a live band and cheering onlookers below.

“It’s just another step in what is going to be a pretty long process, but an absolutely amazing process for the downtown and the citizens of Springfield and Greene County,” Executive Director of the History Museum John Sellars said. [...]

“This sign shined on route 66 for decades. Now we’ve brought back after 30 years and we’re so happy about that,” Sellars said. “We’re so happy about all the activities we got going on at the Fox.”

The History Museum, which is undergoing a large renovation, recently acquired the Fox. Sellars said there’s much more to come for Springfieldians, and visitors alike, to enjoy.

According to CinemaTreasures.org, the Fox opened as the Electric Theatre in 1916 — a full decade before Route 66’s existence — and was renamed the Fox after it was renovated after a fire. The theater closed in 1982, although other tenants continued to use the building, including a church.

The Fox was built by M.E. Gillioz, who also built the historic Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield, also on Route 66.

(Image of the sign relighting via History on the Square)

Proposed Chicago park may include Route 66 museum September 16, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Highways, History, Museums.
Tags: ,
4 comments


View Larger Map

A small lot on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Chicago that’s planned as a Chicago Symphony Orchestra Park may include a small Route 66 museum to recognize its location on Route 66, according to a story in DNAinfo.

The so-called pocket park would sit just west of the Chicago Symphony building. Vanessa Moss, the symphony’s vice president for orchestra and building operations, said the pocket park would be part of an overall plan to revitalize Wabash. According to the article:

Moss said Friday that the CSO could partner with Blue Plate catering to “enhance dining options there and create a really nice oasis for people in the city, and help bring more traffic to the CSO.”

She said the plaza could include a “Route 66 museum” that will explain the site’s historical significance. In 1926, Route 66 started down the street at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street.

Officials didn’t elaborate on what they had planned for the museum, but a rendering did not appear to show a new building on the site. [...]

If funds can be raised on schedule, the CSO hopes to start construction in the early spring and open the park by summer 2015, Moss said.

Based on the artist’s rendering, I suspect it’s not an enclosed “museum” per se, but a few well designed kiosks to tell the Route 66 story in that area.

Swa Frantzen at Historic66.com explains the Route 66 path in that area:

The start of Route 66 has moved a few times. Originally, Route 66 began on Jackson Blvd. at Michigan Ave. In 1933, the start (and end) was moved east onto the reclaimed land for the world fair to Jackson and Lake Shore Drive. In 1955, Jackson Blvd became one way west of Michigan Ave. and Adams St. became the westbound US-66. However the start of US-66 remained on Jackson at Lake Shore Drive.

So, even while currently Adams Street at Michigan Avenue is marked as the starting point, Route 66 never departed from there.

A short distance away in 1977, city workers took down the Route 66 signs at the highway’s eastern terminus at Grant Park at Jackson Drive. Twenty-five years later, Route 66 signs were reinstalled on that spot.

Class of 2014 for Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame announced September 13, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Events, Museums, People, Route 66 Associations.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Author Marian Clark of Tulsa and the late J.M. Davis of Claremore will be inducted Oct. 18 into the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, according to a release from the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.

The ceremony is slated for 2 p.m. and will be free to the public. A plaque for each winner will be placed on the Wall of Honor at the museum. An association panel selects two winners — one living and one dead — from a list of nominations every two years.

Marian Clark

Clark is most famous for writing cookbooks, using recipes from Route 66 restaurants or facsimiles of dishes from long-gone eateries, including “The Route 66 Cookbook” and “Hogs on 66.”

Clark is a native of the Texas Panhandle but has lived in Tulsa for more than 30 years. She resides a few blocks from the Mother Road, which kindled her interest in the highway.

Davis managed the Mason Hotel in Claremore, but became famous internationally for his enormous gun and arms collection and the museum that eventually was built to house it, the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum that opened on Route 66 in Claremore in 1969. Davis died in 1973 and was buried on the museum grounds.

The ceremony next month also will mark the 25th anniversary of the nonprofit Oklahoma Route 66 Association, which aims to “promote, enhance, perpetuate, encourage the development of tourism, economic opportunities, and historic resources and landmarks along Oklahoma’s section of Route 66.”

Electric vehicle museum opens in Kingman September 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Museums, Preservation, Vehicles.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

The exhibit of electric vehicles at the Powerhouse Visitors Center on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, during the International Route 66 Festival last month has become a permanent museum to EVs, with more vehicles coming soon.

According to a story on EV News Report, the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation‘s exhibit was visited by people from 28 states and 20 countries. It was decided to make the exhibit a permanent museum, called the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum.

Route 66 enthusiast Jim Hinckley said by email that more EVs will arrive in the coming months, and the foundation within the next few years will check whether a larger site for the museum is needed.

The foundation’s executive director, Roderick Wilde, credited Hinckley and Kingman city manager John Dougherty for the exhibit’s success and their enthusiasm for a museum. According to the EV News Report:

Jim Dougherty said the EV display was an exciting addition to the Powerhouse complex and that the city looks forward to further cooperation with the HEVF. Josh Nobel, Executive Director of Tourism, for Kingman stated: “The Route 66 Festival provided a suitable platform for the historic electric vehicle symposium, but it became evident the display was solid on it’s own.”

There was a very wide range of vehicles displayed from 1909 to the present, the oldest being a 1909 Ellwell-Parker baggage tug owned by Bob Oldfather, HEVFs Archivist. This is only one of two known to exist in the world. The newest EV was a sleek Tesla Model S graciously displayed during the opening day by its owner, Tudor Melville. John Wayland, another HEVF board member, brought his famous street legal electric drag car, “The White Zombie” all the way from Portland, Oregon. Also on display was the world’s first electric street rod, built by Wilde Evolutions in Jerome, Arizona back in 1995. Roderick Wilde brought his 1930 Detroit Electric and several US made electric micro cars which were built in California in the 1940s to 1960s. [...]

The HEVF plans to add several new vehicles to the Kingman display in the coming months, including a 1912 CT electric commercial truck from Bob Oldfather’s extensive collection. You have may have heard of duallys, but this serious electric truck has triple-wide solid rubber tires front and rear mounted on wooden spoke wheels. The driver sits ten feet in the air in the cab … it’s a real monster! Also coming in October will be our newest acquisition, a ‘Bombardier’ preproduction neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) which the Canadian company used in lobbying activities to get the US federal government to enact NEV legislation that we now enjoy today. This vehicle is being donated to the foundation by Skip Dunn, the President of the Northern New Mexico Electric Vehicle Association.

Incidentally, the Powerhouse facility also has a very nice Route 66 museum on the second floor.

(Image of John Wayland in “White Zombie” electric vehicle dragster at the entrance to the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum; photo by J.Bills via Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation)

Annual Cruise-In at The Mill slated for Saturday September 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Museums, Preservation, Restaurants, Signs, Vehicles.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

The annual Mill Car Cruise-In classic-car show will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the landmark but long-closed Route 66 restaurant in Lincoln, Illinois. The event also serves as a fundraiser in ongoing efforts to preserve The Mill.

Geoff Ladd, former leader of Logan County Tourism, a Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County board member and a key figure in The Mill’s preservation, sent along a news release about the event that contains intriguing news, including that the landmark is being considered for use as a recording studio, as well as a local museum.

Two bands — The Runner Ups and The Howell — will perform at The Mill from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Ladd explained the bands’ performances won’t be just for entertainment:

“We’re trying out some ideas to multi-purpose the facility here at The Mill, while the restoration process continues. We’ll run a Vendor Market with a variety of flea market items, crafts, specialty products and antiques on a monthly basis from May-October, headed up by our new member, Andrea Dykman. We’re also having these bands play to test the waters on whether the building would be good acoustically as a possible sound studio.”

An old wooden structure such as The Mill may very well be ideal for recording purposes, so the idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds on first blush.

The vendor market will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Other nuggets of information:

  • The group is planning a crowdsourcing campaign soon to help raise the remaining estimated $50,000 to finish restoring The Mill.
  • “Thanks to a very special anonymous donation, we will also have on sale made-in-the-USA T-shirts with our brand-new Mill on 66 logo on them,” Ladd said. Other collectibles also will be on sale Saturday to raise funds.
  • The City of Lincoln plans to bring The Tropics restaurant neon sign to The Mill for a photo ops. The city took down the historic sign a few months ago and plans to eventually restore it.
  • The event will be dedicated to the late Mike Fak, who died recently. Fak was the preservation group’s treasurer and helped restore the wood floors on the restaurant’s first floor.
  • Tours of The Mill will be available that day.
  • The event includes a special lunch by Hallie’s Restaurant of Lincoln, which is owned by a descendant of the family that owned The Mill during its heyday.

The Mill, which featured a Dutch-inspired design and a turning windmill, opened on U.S. 66 in 1929. The restaurant fell into decline during the 1980s and closed in 1996. It appeared in 2006 the ramshackle restaurant would be razed, but Ladd and other area preservationists intervened and formed a resurrection plan for the landmark. The Mill is on the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame, and members of the Illinois Route 66 Association has done several big renovation projects for it.

More information about The Mill and Saturday’s event can be found at SaveTheMillOnRoute66.com. The webpage also has a PayPal donation button; the group is a tax-exempt nonprofit.

(Image of The Mill courtesy of Geoff Ladd)

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

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Museums, People.
Tags: , , ,
3 comments

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)

%d bloggers like this: