Apr 132016
 

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A green glow that lit up the corner of Central and Garrison for decades in the middle of the 20th century has been restored in the 21st century with the lighting of the neon Saturday at the Boots Court.
In another step in the restoration of a Route 66 icon, Pricilla Bledsaw and Debye Harvey, the owners of the Boots Court, flipped a switch on Friday, turning on yards of green neon tubing along the edges of the classic building.
Bledsaw said the sisters have been working since they bought the hotel in August 2011 to restore the motel to its 1940s configuration, and while Route 66 aficionados have heard about restoration, adding the neon give people more reason than ever to come and see it for themselves.
“We were so excited we were finally going to get the neon on the building because that’s something people will see,” Bledsaw said. “Right now people come because they’ve heard about the Boots, but with the neon on, it just makes it look so much more open. It makes it look like what it is, it’s a Route 66 icon.”

About 75 people attended a two-hour open house at the Boots on Saturday.
Tables were set up with information about the Route 66 Association of Missouri, the upcoming Jefferson Highway Association of Missouri convention and books about the “Mother Road.”
The Carthage Middle School Tiger Choir, dressed in poodle skirts and dark jeans and t-shirts form the 1950s sang a variety of songs to entertain the crowd and several classic cars were on display.

The motel was filled for the night, marking the first time the restored Vacancy/No Vacancy neon sign was used.
As the sun went down and rain drops started to fall shortly after 8 p.m., dignitaries spoke and it came time for the countdown.
Holding up green LED pens, the crowd counted down from 10, then Debbie Dee, the manager of the Boots, turned on the switch inside the building, bringing to life the yards of neon tubing.
David Hutson, with Neon Time in St. Charles, manufactured the neon tubing to exacting standards replicating the green neon that was on the building based on photos and pieces of the original lights that Bledsaw and Harvey had removed and stored.
Route 66 changed when the sun went down,” Hutson said. Route 66 really came alive to try and attract people into the space. So you have this whole thing flooded with light when it gets dark. I think these kinds of places were so inviting for travelers.”

Bledsaw and Harvey said they applied for a grant from the National Park Service that paid for half the cost of the restoration.
Jim Thole, chairman of the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee for the Route 66 Association of Missouri, said restoring the neon is a big step toward restoring the Boots and giving Carthage place that will draw tourists from around the world.

“It’s just a real prize possession of Carthage in terms of tourism. Route 66 tourism,” Thole said. “People are going to go out of their way to see this. And if you’re here at this time of night to see this, what are you going to do? You’re going to stay here, you’re going to eat here, it’s a win-win for everyone.”
“Signs and architecture like this have taken on a new life in the sense that they are now symbols of local pride. They’re local landmarks, symbols of pride for the community, the community can be proud to have this back.”

By John Hacker – Carthage Press

Mar 162016
 







The Boots Court may not be shining green in time for St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, but it is well on the way to sporting its restored neon green shine starting next month.

The historic Boots Court went green for a few hours on Sunday to test the restored neon lighting along the edges and around the windows of the building. An official re-lighting of the neon is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Saturday, April 9 at the Boots Court, located at the intersection of Garrison and Central avenues. Music, speakers and food will be available at the event which starts at 6 p.m.

Debye Harvey, one of the sisters who bought the historic motel in 2011, turned on the newly installed neon lighting to test it and for photos late Sunday evening.
Harvey and her sister, Pricilla Bledsaw, are planning a grand re-lighting of the neon for 8:15 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Boots Court near the intersection of Garrison and Central in Carthage, and the public is invited.
Harvey said the neon is being restored to its 1940s glory with the help of a Route 66 Corridor Preservation grant from the National Park Service.
“In the 1940s, green architectural neon was installed along the parapet and around the windows of the front building,” Harvey said. “Two shafts of the neon were also installed over the doors to Rooms #9 and #14 in the back building. By the time we purchased the Boots in 2011, the green neon did not work in many places, and much of it had already been removed. We removed the remaining pieces and placed them in storage.”
Crews have spent several days earlier this month installing the restored neon tubes and electric lines around the building and around the windows.
Rain earlier Sunday allowed the wet pavement to reflect the green glow.
Harvey said the April 9 event starts at 6 p.m., with food, music, speakers and informational tables about the Missouri Route 66 Association and other related groups. The switch will be thrown on the new neon lights at dark, which will happen around 8:15 p.m.
“Please make time that evening to come by and see the new, green architectural neon – one of the biggest keys to returning the Boots Court to its historic appearance of the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s,” she said.

By: John Hacker – Carthage Press

Jan 152016
 

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A committee of local leaders has been assembled with the goal of restoring the iconic Tropics restaurant sign.

In May 2014, the symbol of Lincoln’s place in Route 66 history was dismantled for the first time since it was installed in the early-1960’s.
The roughly 4,200-pound sign was cut, lifted by an industrial crane and taken away on a trailer for storage on city property.

In March 2015, the treasurer of the Route 66 Association, Martin Blitstein, accompanied by Andrea Dykman, with The Mill, approached Lincoln City Council on the whereabouts of the sign, which was being stored outdoors at the landfill, raising many concerns from locals.
That following July, the Tourism Bureau took ownership of the sign and partnered with the City of Lincoln and the Johnson family, former owners of the Tropics restaurant, to restore it. Once restoration is complete, it will once again be city property.

Today, a committee of 10 is working to raise funds for the three-year project. Those members include: Executive Director of the Logan County Economic Development Partnership, Bill Thomas, The tropics family- Bob and Tammy Goodrich, Eric Johnson, and Kim Johnson, the President of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County, Bob Wilmert, Event Coordinator for the Logan County Alliance, Cara Barr, Lincoln Alderman Michelle Bauer, Tourism Director Maggie McMurtrey, LCA intern Konner Browne and Rene Martin, with the Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation.
“The committee is working to get things off the ground. Our goal is for each member to network,” said McMurtrey. “Eventually we want to grow into a bigger group of people who really care. So, the role of the small committee, for now, is to brainstorm fundraising ideas and collecting information”

After reviewing several bids, the group is aiming to raise $50,000 for the project. Approximately $30,000 of that will go towards the restoration and the costly transportation of the sign, while the remaining money will be used for unforeseen costs and for the city to use for maintenance.
Currently, the group is utilizing Facebook for public awareness and collecting start-up costs through a Gofundme.com account.
“In terms of progress, the committee worked to establish an online process folks can use to make donations and the committee is working to plan fundraising events,” said Thomas.
The committee is also applying for several grant applications seeking funding support from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Program, the Danner Trust, and The Woods Foundation. The amount of grants applied for will be just shy of $10,000.

Currently, approximately $850 has been donated from the Lincoln and Logan County Chamber of Commerce, which is held in a bank account designated for the project.
While the group is planning a large fundraising event this fall, it is currently hosting a silent auction for four Chicago Bulls versus Cleveland Cavalier tickets for April 9.
“It’s only been up on our Facebook page for two days and it is currently at $450,” said McMurtrey. “So, that’s kind of exciting. It should put us at $1,000 raised.”

As far as a destination for the sign, no decisions have been made just yet. It is still being stored on city property. However, it is now lifted off the ground and has been covered.
“Restoring the Tropics sign, locating it in an appropriate spot and ensuring there is an onsite means of telling the Tropics story to people who stop to see the sign are, in my opinion, the keys to creating a new attraction that will motivate folks to stop and visit Lincoln and Logan County,” said Thomas.
“More tourism money will flow into Lincoln and Logan County if we have more attractions available. The more attractions we have available, the more time visitors will spend in our area. The more time visitors spend in our area, the more likely they are to purchase gas, eat in a restaurant, spend the night, and/or purchase goods at our stores.”

According to McMurtrey, at this point the committee is in the phase of working to raise awareness and start-up funds. “Any donations would be greatly appreciated.”
To donate to the cause, checks can be made out to Save The Tropics Sign and sent to the LCA office at 1555 Fifth Street, Lincoln, Ill. 62656.
For more information visit: Gofundme.com/SaveTheTropicsSign or the Facebook page Save the Tropics Sign.

By Cassy Good – The Courier

Jul 082013
 






Albuquerque officials want to encourage businesses to add neon lights that will lighten up Central Avenue along the city’s 15-mile stretch of historic Route 66.

The City Council last week approved a package of proposals for incentives. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Mayor Richard Berry intends to sign the proposals.

The proposals would allow larger and taller neon signs along the stretch of Central Avenue within city limits. Also, permit fees for neon signs would be waived if the signs meet design guidelines.

Berry and other supporters said adding more neon would make the area vibrant and encourage businesses to create interesting things to see.

Berry, whose administration sent the proposals to the council, said he hopes the changes will “allow businesses to create more iconic images up and down Central Avenue.”

City Councilor Isaac Benton cast the only vote against part of the package, saying it’s unpredictable how things could work out.

“My concern is that the historic signs are going to be lost in the sea of new pseudo-historic signs,” Benton said
Benton, who did support allowing more flexibility for neon signs in the Nob Hill and Highland area, said it’s not easy to determine “what’s creative and expressive and what’s just garish.”

Councilor Rey Garduno predicted the businesses will regulate themselves because they’ll want something that appeals to their areas.

“They’re trying to enhance what they have,” Garduno said.

Russell Brito, a city planning official, said the proposals center on incentives and don’t require anyone to use neon.
“We’re just hoping for a glowing reception from the business community,” he said. “Pun definitely intended.”

Oct 022012
 





You know me – any relighing of any old sign on Route 66 is a great thing!!!

A relighting of the vintage Crestwood Bowl neon sign in Crestwood, MO is scheduled to take place on Saturday evening, October 20th, 2012. Each of you are cordially invited to attend this special event to celebrate the restoration of this neon sign along Missouri Route 66 in southwestern St. Louis County, MO.

Since 2008, a fall relighting ceremony of one of our classic Route 66 neon signs has become an annual event. Our past 4 projects, under the direction of the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee (NHPC) within our Route 66 Association of Missouri, have included the Donut Drive-In in St. Louis, the Sunset Motel in Villa Ridge, the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, and the Luna Cafe in Mitchell (IL). With each subsequent year, these relighting events grow in interest and attendance as we support the preservation of these wonderful examples of commercial art along America’s Main Street.

Here are the details at this time for the Crestwood Bowl event on 10/20:

Crestwood Bowl is located at 9822 Watson Road, Crestwood, MO 63126. It is located on the south side of Watson approximately halfway between Lindbergh Blvd to the west and Sappington Rd to the east. Watson Road was the primary Route 66 pathway west coming out of the city of St. Louis in the heavy post WWII travel era.

The relighting (throwing of the switch!) will take place near dusk ……. estimated to be in the 6:30 to 6:40 PM time frame. However, you may want to plan for a bit earlier time should we have an overcast day. You are welcome to arrive an hour or so earlier, in order not to miss the speakers and presentations leading up to the actual relighting of the sign.

Current owners Mike and Ray Bluth welcome all to attend this event and are planning to serve refreshments. As noted above, we will have several speakers that evening, including representatives from the communities of Crestwood and Sunset Hills.

The bowling alley has a parking area out front of the building, which may be quite limited space-wise that evening, but also another parking lot behind the building as well.

Crestwood Bowl was the recipient of a $9,500 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to assist in the restoration of this sign. It is one of only three signs in St. Louis County to earn designation as a “County Landmark” by the Historic Buildings Commission of St. Louis County.

Please join us this special Saturday evening in October to welcome back this Route 66 beacon of light!

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact myself or Jim Thole, our NHPC Chairperson, at 66thole@sbcglobal.net.

Hope to see you in Crestwood!

Robert Gehl – Director, Membership Services Route 66 Association of Missouri

Aug 192012
 




 

OK – I have done several projects on the route, including Illinois, New Mexico, and California. I live and work and enjoy Arizona, so I think it is time I ‘keep it close to home’ for my next project.

I actually have (4) in AZ I have my hands in:
The first is an old Richfield Gas Station in Winslow.
The second is the famous Meteor City Trading Post.
The third is a historic sign for a restaurant / motel located on Route 66, in Arizona.
The fourth is, well, a gas station in Tucumcari NM – so I guess that one really wouldn’t count!!

Richfield Gas Station – Winslow AZ

This is an interesting project for me. For the past year, I actually tried to BUY this gas station for my own and restore it back to it’s former glory, and then (one day) maybe lease it out as a gift shop or a little sandwich place for tourists. This would have been one of the ONLY restored Richfield Gas Stations on the route, and it would have been a gem! While going back and forth with it’s current owner (mind you, for almost a year!) I was doing massive research on all things Richfield. This included researching what the building looked like when it first opened, finding old photos, and figuring out what brands this station would have carried (this way I could have figured out which signs to put on the exterior of the building). So it was getting down to the wire and the owner decided to keep it! I was blown away! I felt if I lost one of my children at the mall for a minute as I tried to get everything ready to be a ‘proud owner of American history’ – but alas, it was not meant to be.
I sucked it up and through a few emails we continued to talk and one day, he told me his plans with the building, to ‘bring it back to the way it looked like in the 30’s and possibly run a business out of it’… Now mind you, I NEVER told him my plans – as far as he was concerned – I was just ‘some guy’ who wanted to buy the old building – nothing more. It felt like a weight was lifted off my chest as I knew someone had the same plans I did for the building. With that, I met up with him and downloaded ALL my research to his hard drive as a ‘helping hand’ on how to guide him to preserving this gas station.
Now, I am willing to offer to help him – as long as he will let me…


Meteor City Trading Post – Meteor City AZ

This one came to me via a converstation with Roger Naylor – co-author of ‘Arizona Kicks on Route 66’ – while on a phone call one day.
We were talking about preservation work and how he thought it would be ‘great’ to partake in a project –  as he did not know or want to ‘spearhead’ one, but he was more than willing to lend a helping hand.
We were talking about different sites on Route 66 in Arizona and he mentioned he spoke to the owners of the trading post and they were wanting to repaint their ‘World’s Longest Route 66 Map’ as the elements have taken a toll on it. I told him I would stop in on my (many) trips back and forth to Holbrook and see what they are looking to do. Well, I did as promised and found the owner of the trading post, and she pretty much did not want to believe some ‘stranger’ stops in offering a ‘friendly helping hand’ and help them fix something which tens of thousands of travelers stop and look at. As we went outside to tour the map, she was pointing out the damage done by the winds (note: the wind gusts get up to 40-60MPH in the open desert, and when you have something that big sitting there unprotected, it takes a beating). We talked about it being painted some time ago with the direction of Hampton Inns – but she said it was time for to repair the wood and repaint the map. As we walked around the property, she mentioned to me they still had the ORIGINAL trading post building, built in 1932(ish) and it was covered up by fencing. She then mentioned ‘everyone knows it is here and wants to see it and take pictures, but we do not know how to open it up to the public.’ So the lightbuld goes off. I told her to close up the front window and make sure the front door is secure and then remove and realign the wood fencing to INCLUDE the front of the historic original trading post. She loved the idea! Then out of the corner of my eye, I see two painting on the fence and ask her about them. She said ‘oh, Bob Waldmire painted those…’ Naturally, I replied “who knows that?!? Why isn’t there a sign or plaque letting the travelers know this?!?”
So there seems to be THREE projects at this site, all which are just as valuable as the next.


Historic Motel/Restaurant sign – somewhere on Route 66 in AZ

This one we all know and love BUT I need to check with the current owner to see what his/her plans are. He/she might already be working on something as I have seen work done on a portion of it, but the entire sign needs to be redone to show off its grandeur!
This one I will have to get back to you on, but I would LOVE to have the opportunity to work on this one!


Gas Station #10 – Tucumcari NM
OK, this one isn’t in Arizona and this one is pretty much planned with or without me there, but I figured if the timing was right, it is the least I can do to not only help out Tucumcari (again) but to help Mr. Rich Talley for his (several) trips to Needles to criticize me (I mean) help me with not only the 66 Motel sign restoration, but being there with the TEXACO and UNION gas stations before we went to Victorville for the fest.

I believe this should be enough to last me the rest of the year! Although in high country (northern Arizona) it does snow and get really cold, and all of these seem to be on the same ‘belt line’ – I might have to pick only two or three at the most – leaving one or so until next year…

Let me know what you think…

Aug 172012
 


Illuminated, colorful signs for iconic businesses tell Route 66 story best

Editor’s note: Explore Arizona contributor Roger Naylor and photographer Larry Lindahl traveled the length of Historic Route 66 in Arizona to document it in their 2012 book, “Arizona Kicks on Route 66.” In seeking to excerpt the book, we might have settled on the small-town history, the people or the kitschy-cool vibe. But the bright neon photos leaped off the pages. Here’s an armchair tour.

One of my favorite parts of writing “Arizona Kicks on Route 66” was discovering the kaleidoscope blaze of neon that still slices through small-town twilight. From Holbrook to Kingman, from Winslow to Williams, neon-sign language is the lingo of Route 66.

Route 66 neon signs

Neon shimmers and glimmers, it reinvents the dusk and changes the direction of color. Neon is the nightlight of angels and drunkards. Keep your starry, starry skies; give me one twinkling with rainbow hues. If I ever enter politics, the first law I’ll champion will be a tax break for every business that erects a neon sign.

Neon — both old and new — is still in evidence along Arizona’s portion of Route 66. That wavy ribbon of two-lane pavement carves out the journey of a lifetime. Grand adventures mingled with intimate moments unfold, while conjuring images of simpler times. In places where diners are still run by sassy waitresses who call everybody “Hon,” and motel rooms are shaped like tepees, neon signs paint the night softly.

Here are photographer Larry Lindahl’s images of Route 66 neon.

Dairy Queen

This dollop of vintage neon blends in perfectly in Holbrook, where the skyline includes cafes, a historic courthouse, hulking dinosaurs guarding rock shops and motel rooms shaped like wigwams. Not to mention the only Route 66 movie theater left in Arizona. Now, who wants ice cream?

Joe and Aggie’s Café

Sitting at the booth under the “Open” sign at Joe and Aggie’s on a summer evening, it’s easy to lose track of the decades. Folks stroll past on the sidewalk, cars glide through downtown Holbrook, and it’s all bathed in a neon glow. You’re just a snap-brim fedora and a few swooping Chevy fins from 1957.

Museum Club

If the term roadhouse didn’t exist, it would be coined for the Museum Club, a Flagstaff icon. The giant log cabin once housed a taxidermist, then a museum, before becoming a legendary music venue. It’s said to be haunted by the former owners, both of whom died in the club.

Galaxy Diner

Photos and memorabilia line the walls of the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff. The aroma of chopped-steak burgers wafts through the joint, and banana splits are piled high. Every weekend brings live bands, swing-dancing lessons and car-club meetings.

Western Hills Motel

Neon and Route 66 will be forever linked. Garish, gaudy signs like this beauty in Flagstaff cut through the cacophony of roadside advertising to snag passing motorists. The motel may be a little down at the heels, but is still in operation.

Sierra Vista Motel

The Sierra Vista is a remnant of another era. A cluster of hotels and boarding houses once huddled along a pre-1935 alignment of Route 66 just south of downtown Flagstaff. Now, businesses such as Mother Road Brewing Co. and Pizzicletta restaurant are springing up along this stretch.

Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe

Cruiser’s Cafe is the unofficial patio of Route 66, right on the Mother Road in downtown Williams. Ribs are almost always sizzling on the grill, and a guy with a guitar plays the soundtrack of a rambling youth. Traffic flows past, and it’s hard to resist ordering one more beer under those circumstances.

Rod’s Steak House

If you build it, they will come. If you build it and put a neon cow on the roof, they’ll stop for a meal. That bovine beacon has been luring hungry travelers to Rod’s Steak House in Williams since 1946.

Snow Cap

The Snow Cap in Seligman is beloved for its tasty grub and the wacky gags of the late Juan Delgadillo. Juan’s legacy lives on as his kids continue delivering his zingers along with juicy burgers. A visit to the Snow Cap is a reminder that life is delicious and should never be taken too seriously.

Supai Motel

Classic neon signs define the Seligman skyline, like the one at the Supai Motel. Pull into town at dusk with those lights beckoning and the seductive promise of New Color TVs, and it’s almost impossible not to stop for the night.

Historic Route 66 Motel

Route 66 pilgrims from all over the world visit Seligman because this is where the preservation movement began. They explore the small town with wide-eyed wonder during the day, then settle in at the Historic Route 66 Motel for the night.

Hill Top Motel

The sign lets you know you’re in for a classic Route 66 experience. The Hill Top in Kingman is an excellent example of the midcentury motor courts that are synonymous with the Mother Road. Enjoy a restful night on a high perch, away from the rumble of trains.

Route 66 facts

Arizona contains the longest unbroken stretch of Route 66 still in existence, 158 miles from west of Ash Fork to the California state line.

Arizona is the birthplace of Historic Route 66. Through the work of a handful of Seligman residents, Arizona became the first state to dedicate a stretch of U.S. 66 as Historic Route 66, thus beginning the preservation efforts that soon encompassed the entire road.

The only national park that Route 66 passes through is Petrified Forest National Park.

In 2009, Historic Route 66 in Arizona was designated an All-American Road under the Federal Highways National Scenic Byways Program. Only 31 roads in the nation have that distinction, and it is the only portion of Route 66 to hold it.

Details: www.arizonakicks66.com, Facebook.com/Route66Arizona, @Rt66Arizona on Twitter.

by Roger Naylor –  The Republic

 

Jun 172012
 




The Motel 66 neon is ready to be installed!

There will be a lighting ceremony this Saturday, June 23rd at 9pm. It has to be later in the evening because that’s when it gets dark in Needles!

I will be in town late Thursday night working most of the day Friday and Saturday installing the neon, transformers and wiring to complete the restoration of the sign.

We will have a good size crowd that night so if you are traveling Route 66, or even are close to Needles, stop out.

The sign was last lit over 15 years ago so this has been a long time coming.

Thanks again for all of you who have donated and supprted this project!

Jan 222011
 

Great pictures of neon at its best! Neon and Route 66 just go together!!

By LeTania Kirkland
A new outdoor exhibit featuring neon art of the Route 66 era seeks to portray the medium and its creations as indispensable to the artistic heritage and landscape of Los Angeles.

The public exhibit, “On Route 66, Lights,” combines four vintage neon art pieces from the collection of The Museum of Neon Art, as well as a suggested route and 21-page color roadmap of still existent neon signs.

MONA and the city of West Hollywood joined forces to celebrate the city’s 25th anniversary with a self-guided tour of neon art along Santa Monica Blvd (which was once a portion of Route 66) and the Sunset strip.

“As time moves forward into the future and we look back at these things, they really are folk art objects,” said Kim Koga, MONA’s downtown director.

A neon exhibit seemed a fitting way to honor “The Mother Road” and the city it helped create. After all, the first neon sign — for a Packard car dealership — was displayed in Los Angeles. And Route 66 — the quintessential California thoroughfare — became a hot bed of neon signage shortly thereafter.

Neon thrived on the billboards that flanked Route 66 as it did along LA’s sidestreets, fed by LA’s booming car culture, and has become an indispensable aspect of the history and aesthetic of each.

One sign, a 17-foot Winchell’s Donut — originally displayed in Plummer Park — resided on Route 66 in Upland. It was donated to MONA by the Barstow Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum.

The project was partly conceived of as a way to display some of the many pieces of vintage neon, much of which had been sitting in storage since MONA’s relocation to its new, smaller home downtown on 4th Street.

Koga put out the word around town that MONA had pieces of art waiting to be seen. It was then that West Hollywood cultural affairs administrator Andrew Campbell approached Koga with the On Route 66 proposal.

“I don’t think a lot of people would think about putting neon in their main art median,” said Campbell. Campbell is pleased that the “creative city” is celebrating a medium often seen as purely commercial.

“I think it’s a very fun thing to see that these people who may not have considered themselves artists we look at as artists today.”

“On Route 66” is a part of West Hollywood’s “Art on the Outside” program, which utilizes the city’s prominent road medians to display sculpture.

Click HERE to see the full video and many other neon signs.