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Kickstarter fundraiser launched to restore sign August 22, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Restaurants, Signs.
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The new owners of Cindy’s Eagle Rock Restaurant in Los Angeles have begun a Kickstarter campaign to preserve the historic diner’s vintage sign, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Monique King and Paul Rosenbluh bought the restaurant and reopened it in April. And, so far, they seem to be good stewards:

They’ve kept the original booths, wallpaper and countertops inside, from when the diner opened in 1948, but King says the sign outside is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the mid-century landmark.

“We felt like the luckiest people in the whole universe when we got it,” King said. “It’s a beautiful sign, it’s vintage, original and there is just something so important about preserving it and taking it away from being just a big pigeon roost.”

King and Rosenbluh started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $16,250 they say is needed to restore the sign. The two are hoping to fix the rusted metal, attach a new neon “open” sign, structurally reinforce the sign and replace the sign’s letters.

King reiterated the restaurant is keeping the sign, but it simply doesn’t have the money now to do it properly. If enough people help out, the owners will hire a sign preservationist to do it up right.

Here’s the campaign, with all the goodies detailed:

(Hat tip to Scott Piotrowski; image of the Cindy’s sign by Howard F. via Flickr)

Milk Bottle Building will be restored August 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Preservation, Signs.
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The historic Milk Bottle Building in Oklahoma City will be restored to close to its original appearance, reported The Oklahoman newspaper.

Catherine Montgomery, a preservation architect at Preservation & Design Studio who is helping with the project, told the newspaper the interior will be renovated for a new tenant.

After removing a sheet of plywood covering one of the building’s windows, owner Elise Kilpatrick discovered it had covered an original transom window dating to the 1930s with one pane of glass still intact.

“I said ‘we need to uncover this,’” Kilpatrick said. “We are trying to take the building back as close as we can to when it was first built.”

New windows, lights, awnings and a mahogany door are part of the makeover. Historic preservation tax credits will help pay for renovations.

Kilpatrick didn’t reveal the tenant, but said it would be “something really special and unique to Oklahoma City.”

The 11-foot-tall milk bottle on top of the building, made of sheet metal, was erected in 1948. The bottle advertised Townley’s Dairy from the 1950s until the 1980s, then Braum’s ice cream.

The National Park Service had this information about the Milk Bottle Building:

Constructed in 1930, the tiny, 350-square foot triangular commercial building of red brick is located on a speck of real estate smack in the right-of-way of a busy urban thoroughfare. It sits at an old streetcar stop along a line that ran diagonally across Classen Boulevard, which served as a segment of Route 66’s original Oklahoma City alignment. Subsequent realignments of the highway, first along Western Avenue and then on 23rd Street, remained only a stone’s throw from the site.

The NPS also said the building also became a cleaning service, a real-estate office, the Classen Fruit Market, a barbecue restaurant, a Vietnamese sandwich shop and the Triangle Grocery. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

(Image from 2012 of the Milk Bottle Building by Travel Aficionado via Flickr)

Replica of La Bajada Hill sign erected August 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Signs.
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In recent days, “Roamin’ Rich” Dinkela commissioned a replica of a warning sign that long ago graced the top of La Bajada Hill between Santa Fe and Albuquerque in New Mexico.

La Bajada Hill served as Route 66 during the 1920s and the early ’30s, although the path itself dates to the 1500s as part of the Camino Real. The steep and narrow roadway featured 23 switchback curves. So the locals felt obligated to warn motorists what they were getting into.

Incidentally, the road is little-changed in the 90 or so years since Route 66 was realigned. It’s eroded in spots, and only four-wheel vehicles should attempt to drive it. So the re-created sign’s warnings are still relevant. If you’re wanting to explore La Bajada Hill, it’s best done while hiking.

Brian Shawn McClenahan of The Sign Guy in O’Fallon, Missouri, was commissioned to paint the sign. He created a time-lapse video of how he made it which, helpfully, includes a rare image of the bullet-ridden original sign:

(Image of La Bajada Hill by Jon Lewis via Flickr)

Springfield erects new welcome sign, Red’s Giant Hamburg replica August 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, History, Restaurants, Signs.
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On Friday, right when the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival was kicking off, the city of Springfield, Missouri, showed off its new Route 66-themed welcome sign and a replica of the long-gone Red’s Giant Hamburg restaurant sign at the newly christened Route 66 Roadside Park.

The Springfield News-Leader had some details about the park:

Plans for the Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park include incorporating memories of local Route 66 landmarks, sculptures, a filling station replica, a motor court sign replica and a history plaza. The first phase of the park includes the replica of the Red’s Giant Hamburg sign, a park driveway and parallel parking, landscaping and sidewalk improvements along College Street. [...]

The initial streetscape cost $423,000, including $112,000 for utilities, and was paid for using ¼ cent capital improvement sales tax funding. The Red’s Giant Hamburg sign was funded with donations of more than $15,000, raised through the local crowdfunding company www.Crowdit.com.

The estimated cost for the park altogether is about $1 million, according to Rognstad. However, with additional ideas popping up, that could run higher, city leaders say.

To complete the park and other improvements included in a vision plan, the city must leverage its investment in the project with private donations and other sources of funding. A larger plan to revitalize historic Route 66 through other parts of Springfield could roll out in phases, as the city gauges interest and potential funding.

The KY3 station filed this report about why Springfield is suddenly embracing Route 66 — economic opportunity.

And KY3 posted this bonus — a report from 1984 when Red’s Giant Hamburg closed when the Chaneys retired.

Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program announces 2014 grants July 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, History, Motels, Signs.
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The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program on Thursday announced five cost-share grants totaling $77,000 for 2014, including one for an endangered bridge in Oklahoma.

Here are the recipients:

Rock Creek Bridge, Sapulpa, Oklahoma ($5,013 National Park Service grant, $5,013 match by recipient)– The bridge carried traffic on Route 66 from 1926 until 1952. The bridge, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been closed to traffic in recent years. Ongoing repairs and interventions by the City of Sapulpa will help it meet recommendations by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation so the bridge can be reopened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Skylark Motel neon tower rehabilitation, St. Clair, Missouri  ($22,300 NPS, $22,300 match) –The motel, which opened in 1952, is marked by a two-story, Art Deco tower that sported multicolored neon lights behind glass blocks. The VFW that now owns the property is working with the Route 66 Association of Missouri’s Neon Heritage Preservation Committee to restore the tower.

L Motel rehabilitation, Flagstaff, Arizona ($9,800 NPS, $46,063 match) – The grant will aid with the new owners’ ongoing rehabilitation of the motel, including heating and air conditioning systems. The L Motel has operated continuously along Route 66 since 1949.

American Indians and Route 66 materials, New Mexico ($24,900 NPS, $29,651 match) – The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association will develop educational and travel materials for the public that will include information about the tribes along Route 66 and their cultural heritage; significant tribal sites along the route; historical impacts of Route 66 on tribes; and the impact of tribal culture on Route 66.

Route 66 oral history project, Springfield, Missouri ($15,000 NPS, $33,880 match) – The Missouri State University Libraries will undertake a project to save for posterity many under-told stories of the Ozarks, including African-American experiences of Route 66. It will collect at least 20 oral-history interviews, which will be digitized and made available online.

The cost-share grant program provides assistance for historic preservation, research, oral history, interpretative, and educational projects. Since 2001, 119 projects have awarded a total of $1.7 million, with $2.9 million in cost-share match, totaling $4.6 million in public and private investment for Route 66.

(Image of the Rock Creek Bridge by carterse via Flickr)

Cowboy sign returns to Big Texan after one-month hiatus July 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Restaurants, Signs.
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The 90-foot-tall landmark cowboy sign at the Big Texan Steak Ranch returned Friday after being removed for about a month when a wind storm damaged it, reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

The newspaper reported about the saga of Bull, the name of the cowboy figure on the sign:

Strong winds in late June damaged the sign to the point where it would have been dangerous to leave it up. That surprised Bobby Lee, co-owner of the Big Texan.

“He’s survived two tornados, a plane, blizzards … wind, you name it, but that one got him,” he said. [...]

AAA Signs of Amarillo spent weeks refurbishing and repairing the old herdsman. The high wind took its toll on the old steel, so plans were made for strengthening the design, AAA manager Dale Bural said. Some cosmetic touch-ups were made, but workers did their best to keep Bull authentic, Bural said.

The restaurant initially thought the sign would be down only a week or two. But the repairs apparently were more complex than anticipated. Either way, Bull probably will be fine for a few more decades.

Bull dates to 1960, among the earliest days of the Big Texan when the restaurant was on Amarillo Boulevard, aka Route 66. At one point, Bull had neon lighting. The sign’s surface was extensively renovated about 10 years ago.

Bull and the restaurant moved during the early 1970s after Interstate 40 opened.

(Image of Bull the cowboy in 2011 at the Big Texan Steak Ranch by bernachoc via Flickr)

New Goodwill store in Tulsa doubles as a Route 66 souvenir shop July 13, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Signs.
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The new Goodwill Industries of Tulsa store on Southwest Boulevard (aka Route 66) in southwest Tulsa last week. The opening was a few weeks later than anticipated because of weather-related construction delays.

As we previously reported, the Goodwill store’s design takes a page from Route 66 and Tulsa history with a retro-looking sign in the front and Art Deco architecture with the storefront.

But longtime Route 66 News reader Susan Yates took note — and photos — of something else unexpected — the Goodwill store also is selling Route 66 souvenirs, in addition to its usual stock of used clothing, books and furniture.

Yates noted that it is the only store in west Tulsa where travelers can select from a sizable choice of Route 66 souvenirs. She wrote in an email:

It seems that the board that governs the Goodwill program has figured out a way to offer something to the many Route 66 travelers who pass by every day. It would certainly be the handiest place to find excellent Route 66 books and good quality souvenirs when traveling through Tulsa.

(Photos courtesy of Susan Yates and Laurel Kane)

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