Feb 012013

It’s about time!! I know they have been struggling for years trying to get this historic old Richfield Gas station – and now it is finally a reality!!

Rancho Cucamonga – Ownership of a historic Route 66 gas station near the northwest corner of Foothill Boulevard and Archibald Avenue was granted this week to a nonprofit historic preservation organization.

A main goal of the organization is to turn the site into a landmark Rancho Cucamonga tourist destination for Route 66 fans and travelers from all over the world, said Anthony Gonzales, president of the Route 66 IECA.

The gas station, which was opened in the 1910s, had provided service to the community up to the 1970s, he said.

“We have Route 66, the ‘mother road,’ and it’s been around since the 1930s, and it’s representative of an era back in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s,” Gonzalez said. “For people from the middle part of the country, the road they used to travel to California was Route 66.‘ Several times, walking past this gas station, I started wondering to myself, who was here, what famous people were here who traveled this road and stopped here. There is a lot of history.”

Members had been concerned over the fate of the old building in recent years. A larger adjoining garage in the rear had been demolished in the recent past. The group initiated efforts to acquire the property from the Lamar advertising company, which also owns tall electronic billboards near the site.

Lamar has donated the land to the nonprofit, and the company should get a tax break from the deal, Gonzalez said. Gonzalez had the grant deed signed by county officials on Thursday.

The Route 66 IECA (Inland Empire California) nonprofit group hopes to gain community and corporate support for money toward architectural review, renovation, marketing, and future upkeep.

“The desire is to try to restore it to a period of time in the past that would bring a little historic site to Route 66 and have the community have a treasure like this historic gas station, come in, visit and learn about the history of the gas station and learn about the history of Cucamonga as a whole.”

Gonzalez said the hope is to turn the place into a museum where travelers and locals could come and learn more about the history of Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga.

“The desire is to have the city become a partner with us in whatever they can,” Gonzalez said. “As far as soliciting funds from the city, the city is faced with financial issues. Our hope is to have the city as a partner to look for community sponsors and corporate sponsors.”

Gonzalez said his group will also look to the state and federal government to assist in available grants.

Neil Nisperos – Inland Newspapers

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