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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.

Electric vehicle museum opens in Kingman September 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Museums, Preservation, Vehicles.
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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.
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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)

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)

Railroad depot in Springfield named to National Register September 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Railroad.
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The Great Western Railroad depot in Springfield, Illinois, was named to the National Register of Historic Places effective Aug. 25, according to an email a few days ago from the National Park Service.

The depot at 930 E. Monroe St. (map here) sits barely a block east of the classic Ninth Street alignment of Route 66. The brick depot was built in 1852, which makes it more than historic enough for inclusion to the National Register.

But the Great Western depot has this additional cachet:

Three months after his election in November 1860, Abraham Lincoln left Springfield for Washington, D.C. to become the 16th President of the United States. The special train that would take him there left the Great Western Depot on the rainy morning of Monday, February 11, 1861, the last day Lincoln spent in Springfield. [...]

Lincoln gave a short speech to the group of friends and family who came to see him off. His words, brief yet powerful, moved his audience and foretold of the great challenge he faced.

“My friends, No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

It also was from this depot where Lincoln gazed at his beloved Springfield for the last time before his assassination in 1865.

For the last 50 years or so, the depot has operated as a museum. It was purchased two years ago by the Noll Law Office, extensively renovated , and reopened on the first floor as a self-guided museum (more about its hours are here). The second floor holds the law office.

The depot is another reminder you could spend all day visiting the historic Lincoln sites around Springfield.

(Image of the Great Western Railroad Depot by Larry Myhre via Flickr)

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)

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