Apr 132016
 

boots-new-neon-02











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
 

tropics-sign








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

Dec 222014
 

rancho-cucamongo-gas-station-02








RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Anthony Gonzalez said he didn’t acquire a true love for historical buildings and landmarks until his involvement with Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles.

In the early ‘90s, Gonzalez served as El Pueblo director when many of the buildings there were damaged by an earthquake in 1994.

“It made me realize the importance of trying to maintain and keep these historical building so we can know where we came from,” he said.

It is that love that led him to in 2011 to begin efforts to save and restore a nearly 100-year-old gas station along Route 66.

Gonzalez lived in La Verne for most of his adolescence and moved out in college. He returned to the area in 1998 when he moved to his current home in Rancho Cucamonga.

As the president of Route 66 Inland Empire California, he is helping to spearhead efforts.

For the past year, he and group members have devoted many hours restoring the Cucamonga Service Station with the goal of reopening it next year as a museum.

In September, he was named president of Cucamonga Service Club, the governing body that oversees Sweeten Hall building in the 9000 block of San Bernardino Road.

In the past, Sweeten Hall served as the central location for gatherings and parties in the city. That was lost for years for various reasons.

His plan in the next year is to help restore the building so that it can once again be utilized by the community.

“These two endeavors are keeping me busy now,” said the 63-year-old who retired only three years ago.

Now he spends at least eight hours a day on either restoration projects, he said.

“I’m trying to rehabilitate the buildings, bring them back to its original state,” Gonzalez said.

– By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Dec 032014
 




I am working with a production company for a very well known cable channel who is looking for restoration projects for their new show. They are looking for things from small & large items to signs to even small buildings. No cars or homes, just items or places with significant historic value to the town in which it came from and with a great story behind it!

They are looking for projects which might have been started and the folks restoring it either ran out of resources, motivation, time and/or money. They are also looking for projects which need restoration and folks who do not have the resources, knowledge and / or funds.

This could pertain to anyone in any town in the United States. The theme to remember is Unique Americana – with a story behind it, and towns who want to see the item, sign or building come back to life. The project should only take a few weeks and not ‘break the bank’ to restore it.

One of the items currently under consideration is the ‘World’s Largest Thermometer’ in Baker CA and another project is the first ‘Air Force One’ airplane. Anything could be a contender for consideration, so what do you have to lose??

Email me some information with pictures, a description of the item / sign / building / etc, where it is located, what has been done to the item and a background with some historical facts and some interesting tidbits and I will forward them to my contact.

I need submissions NO LATER than Wed Dec. 10th. Email them to me at info@route66 world.com
Please share this on your Facebook pages, email people who might be interested in this and just get the word out! You never know what could happen and this may be the opportunity to bring back a wonderful part of Americana!

Oct 122014
 

aztec-motel








MONROVIA – Closed for more than two years, the historic Aztec Hotel is in the middle of a renovation project touted as a return to prominence for the distinctive Mayan-style building in Monrovia, although visible progress has turned out to be as fleeting as the ghosts that supposedly haunt the hotel.

Once a 1920s celebrity hangout and still a Route 66 attraction, the hotel could reopen by early 2015 if work goes according to plan. An application for a new round of upgrades was submitted to Monrovia officials in late September, and work could soon begin with minor alterations to the rooms and construction of a redesigned parking lot.

However, very little has gone according to plan for the Aztec Hotel recently. A former manager who started the renovations by overhauling the hotel restaurant is now entangled in a lawsuit against the hotel’s Chinese owner, alleging discrimination and wrongful termination.

Also, a series of negotiations to lease the hotel’s empty retail spaces fell through, leaving a long-established barbershop as the sole tenant. In January, one new business moved in — a Route 66 memorabilia and gift shop — but it was gone in less than six months.

“There’s interest in the community, and I have to think people are kind of disappointed,” said Jim Wigton, president of the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group. “If the owner was serious about making this a viable concern, a lot more would have been done.”

Despite its troubles, the current hotel manager says plenty has gone on behind the scenes as preparation, and he is optimistic about what the Aztec could become — a boutique destination for Route 66 travelers, ghost hunters and anyone interested in the hotel’s inherent nostalgia and kitsch.

“The goal is to bring it back to the 20s and 30s design, but with modern amenities,” said Peter Kertenian, whose background includes managing Marriott hotels.

Kertenian acknowledged the pace of renovation has been slow, but noted that a building such as the Aztec, a National Historic Landmark that has a similar status at the city level, requires extra time for various approvals.

The newest renovation plans are on track to be considered by Monrovia’s Historic Preservation Commission and Planning Commission this month or November, according to Planning Manager Craig Jimenez.

Kertenian also ran into a few surprises when planning the work, he said. The electrical transformers that serve the building are far too old to handle the installation of air conditioning in the rooms, so Southern California Edison needs to replace them.

Also, the parking lot is unlighted and its spaces non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so redesigning it became necessary before the Aztec Hotel’s restaurant could open, he said.

“They wasted all this time on a restaurant, when nobody sat down and said you cannot open a restaurant when the parking lot is not done,” Kertenian said.

Formerly known as the Brass Elephant, a bar whose rowdy clientele often aggravated neighbors, the restaurant was supposed to transform into the more community-friendly Mayan Bar and Grill under former manager Art DeSautels, who had been hired in December 2012.

“It wasn’t until I went there, seeing that it was closed, when I got into the lobby and saw the history of the building, I was immediately intrigued by the opportunity,” DeSautels said.

While the restaurant work got underway in early 2013, DeSautels invited public engagement through a social media campaign, offering tours and taste testings of the Latin American-inspired menu that he expected to establish. Many of his postings are still available on the hotel’s Facebook page.

“They’ve had so many bad experiences,” DeSautels said, referring to a messy foreclosure that allowed the current owner, Qinhan Chen, to purchase the property through a company called Jia Ming Hotel USA. “There were so many things I needed to do bridge the gap between the owner, the city and the community.”

His work initially had Chen’s approval, DeSautels said, but it didn’t last. Making decisions primarily from his home in China and visiting occasionally, Chen at first appeared more interested in a Las Vegas-style hotel and wanted to make the Aztec’s rooms bigger by knocking down some walls, DeSautels said.

By the time he was fired in May 2013, DeSautels had filed a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging Chen had hired a Chinese assistant manager to usurp his duties and slandered him with allegations of stolen funds.

In his lawsuit filed in May, nearly a year after his dismissal, DeSautels makes further claims that Chen was skirting the U.S. Patriot Act and other laws by hiring Chinese nationals to transfer money to the U.S. through their bank accounts.

Chen counter-sued, alleging DeSautels performed work without approval and stole $1,500 through petty cash funds.

DeSautels says all of the money went into the hotel. “Everything I did was to save them money,” he said, also referring to Chen’s bookkeeper. “I had them sign off on all the equipment that was given to them.”

Chen’s Alhambra-based attorney, Peter K. Chu, called DeSautels’ accusations untrue and noted that the claims of illegal money transfers don’t have anything to do with the labor dispute that’s the basis of the lawsuit.

“(Chen) was outraged by the allegations,” Chu said.

The restaurant remodel had been nearly complete when DeSautels left the project, but instead of opening it as the Mayan Bar and Grill, the plan soon changed to leasing it.

The restaurant and the Aztec’s other retail spaces have attracted plenty of interested parties, but several potential business owners said they walked away because Chen kept changing his mind about terms, often seeking more money or repairs.

“We left with a very bitter feeling about it,” said Joe Ramsey, who wanted to start a music store at the Aztec and said he and a partner had a handshake deal in 2013. Instead, after about the fourth round of requests to restructure the deal, “we said, you know, we’re not going to be able to do this.”

Ramsey now co-owns Resistor Records, in Monrovia’s Old Town district on Myrtle Avenue.

Former Old Town business owner Patty Fairman, who had been interested in moving her Patty’s Antiques shop to the Aztec, said she backed out when the lease rate and repair requests kept changing.

Kertenian said leasing deals could come together once the hotel reopens, and said construction is ready to progress quickly once all the approvals are completed, barring the likelihood of setbacks because of the hotel’s age.

He also defended Chen’s plans for the Aztec, saying the owner wants to ensure the remodeling work is a fit with hotel’s historic status.

“His vision is right on, he’s not trying to make this place look like the Taj Mahal or anything,” Kertenian said. “Almost all the plans, the design, everything is set, it’s a matter of executing it.”

By: James Figueroa – Pasadena Star News

May 062013
 




We JUST drove past this sign a few days ago before they took it down – glad to see folks who are so involved with the preservation of this historic sign!

YUKON — Along Route 66 in Yukon stands Yukon’s Best Flour with a tall electric sign sitting on top of the mill. The lights have been dim for the past year but will soon get a makeover.

Crews removed the electronic sign Monday morning to replace the sign’s 2,200 bulbs with longer-lasting and energy-efficient LED bulbs and to rebuild the letters.

The group Friends of Yukon’s Best Inc. organized to raise $150,000. Instead, they pulled in $163,000 to give the light a new look.

A large amount of cash came in February when the Yukon Community Support Foundation announced a matching grant of up to $40,000.

Once complete, the sign will be as close to the original as possible.

Jan 032013
 



Albuquerque, at one time, seemed hell-bent on tearing down the old sections of the route for all new development – but it seems they are seeing what a lot of other folks and towns are seeing – the added value of the attraction that is known world-wide as Route 66!

Klarissa Peña remembers cruising on West Central, and now she’s part of the city’s push to try and restore the glamour and the glitz of old Route 66.

“We all appreciate cruising,” Peña said of the West Central community that includes one of the longest stretches of actively used Route 66, the iconic “Mother Road.”

Peña, president of the Southwest Alliance of Neighbors, Mayor Richard Berry and other dignitaries were at a recent ribbon cutting for a gleaming new fire station on 57th Street and West Central. They briefly described to celebrants upcoming projects intended to improve safety and to spur economic development in the area in the next several years. Mentioned were a new library, a series of road, safety and sidewalk improvements, new senior housing and a new visitor’s center on Nine Mile Hill, along with a long list of other potential economic development projects.

“What we hope to do is entice people to get off the interstate to come into the community and shop and to take in some of the sights, like the breathtaking view of the city viewable from historic Route 66,” Peña said.

The City Council in fall 2010 began planning a new West Route 66 Sector Development Plan. The plan noted that in the past 20 years the area suffered from stagnant commercial development, while single-family housing boomed in surrounding areas.

That left a significant imbalance between jobs and services and housing, and thus West Central became a commuter road instead of a destination for jobs, service, retail or more diverse housing.

Peña said she’s “absolutely thrilled” that the building of a new community library is slated to start sometime next summer at Central and Unser, providing critical educational services to area schools and residents.

During public hearings as part of developing a sector plan, the city heard recommendations that it encourage new multifamily and senior housing, attract new commercial development and retain its cultural legacy, including the preservation of Route 66, agrarian traditions, expansive views and the eclectic and unique character of the area, which is marked by its collection of roadside neon lit travel motels, gas stations and cafes.

Particularly involved with the plans for the area have been the mayor, City Councilor Isaac Benton and County Commissioner Art De La Cruz, Peña said.

“We want to bring back the character of the Old Route 66 and develop an Uptown center kind of shopping experience for people on West Central and the West Side,” Peña said. “We still have a long way to go, but with the enthusiasm and the tenacity of the people here, I have no doubt we’re going to be successful.”

Sep 152012
 






The tenth (and final gas station of the year) was just completely repainted and cleaned up with the help of volunteers as Tucumcari continues with their plan to make their town a true destination for travelers on Route 66.

The group started at 8am and worked all day until the building was painted and all the trim was completed. A special thanks to the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce for their funding assistance…






























































































Throught the next week – Doug Quarles of Quarles Art Gallery will do what he does best – start with the many murals and artwork on the building to complete the restoration.

This gas station is located right nexct door to Junior Garza’s gas station we painted last year. Click HERE to see that video.

Jun 282012
 





Hot off the tail of the restoration of the 66 Motel sign in Needles, another project (or should I say projects) are taking shape…

Not even a week has gone by since the relighting of the historic 66 Motel sign another restoration project is underway.

Having spent a good amount of time in the last year and a half in Needles, one starts looking for things to not only help the travelers who are driving Route 66, but also to try to find ways to help the local economy as well.

The thing which jumped out to me were two small, non-descript gas stations on the west side of town. I have passed these things many, many times as I was in town working on the sign and always wanted to see if something could be done with them.

Well, fast forward to last week and the town has decided to continue with the ‘wave of restorations’ and start planning on working on these two stations. They were very surprised on not only how well the motel sign turned out, but the reactions from local town folk. It is a wise move in my eyes!

The two gas stations will be painted the standard ‘white paint’ they once where painted back in the 40’s and 50’s and signs and other artwork will be added by local volunteers, an artist, and even yours truly. I wanted to be a part of this one, as I have a ‘fondness’ for Needles now!

The owners will also help with the work as well as provide old photos for reference as we will try to recreate them as close to how they used to look like.

If this sounds familiar, look no further than Tucumcari and the work they have done on their stations. To be honest with you, I have been planting this seed for over a year and I feel it was Rich Talley (Motel Safari fame) who pushed it over the edge and convinced them it was ‘the right thing to do for the town, and the tourists’.

I do not expect the stations to look as ‘good’ as in Tucumcari as I know how they work and their ‘secret weapon’ Doug Quareles, but we are going to do a pretty decent job!

The plan is to have both stations completed by the time the Victorville festival starts so folks can not only see the restored sign, they can see the gas stations finished, maybe have lunch at the historic Wagon Wheel Restaurant, and then head ‘west to the fest!’