Dec 142014
 

baxter-springs-cafe-on-the-route








Shirley Sharbutt and Paula Suman used to frequent Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs and were disappointed when it closed suddenly about two years ago. But during the past several months, they noticed a remodel was under way.

“Finally, we drove by one day and saw that it was open,” said Sharbutt, of Miami, Oklahoma. She and Suman stopped by the recently re-opened restaurant for the first time last week.
On Wednesday morning, workers at the cafe, 1101 Military Ave., were busy preparing for the lunch rush. Customers began walking in soon after the doors opened at 11 a.m., and the phone rang several times as groups called to make reservations.
The restaurant had been a landmark on Route 66 since opening in May 1998, and gained national fame in 2007 when it was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with host Guy Fieri.
In early 2013, an announcement that the Baxter restaurant was closing was abrupt, as winners of holiday gift certificates had been announced just a few weeks before.
Managed by Amy Sanell, Cafe on the Route was known for its eclectic lunch and dinner menu of “traditional American with a twist” created by her husband, Chef Richard Sanell, an executive chef who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City.

The reason for its sudden closing were never made clear, but since then, Tim and Julie Potter, of Miami, Oklahoma, have purchased the restaurant and renovations began in July. It opened Nov. 18 and is being managed by executive chef Charles Bowen and house manager Michelle Haynes.
“Everybody just loves that we’ve opened back up,” Haynes said. “We’ve had a big turnout so far. For a small community, we were really surprised.”
While the Route 66 tourism season isn’t yet in full swing, Haynes said she has already received reservations from motorcycle groups, and a group of 35 planned to hold its Christmas party at the cafe.
As he prepped food items in the kitchen, Bowen discussed everything it takes to make a meal something exceptional.
“With every fiber, I believe great food begins with a thousand tiny steps,” he said. But Bowen hasn’t always focused his efforts on building the perfect meal.

A structural engineer turned chef, Bowen has a Ph.D. and taught engineering at Oklahoma State University for six years. He also has been involved in the remodel of the cafe, which has new appliances in its kitchen and an antique-style dining area with tall ceilings and exposed brick walls.
“I gave up a six-figure job for one half the pay and double the hours,” he said. “My fingers hurt, I burn myself and my feet hurt. But I enjoy coming to work every day. I love what I do, and I’m passionate about what I do. This is what makes me tick.”
Bowen went to culinary school in New York City and also went to France to study bread baking.
“I probably have 700 cookbooks and still study 20 hours a week,” he said.
And although his background is in fine dining, Bowen describes his cooking at Cafe on the Route as made-from-scratch comfort food.

The fettuccini alfredo is made-to-order, he said, and the meatballs are house made and have parmesan cheese inside them. The cafe’s fries are hand-cut Idaho potatoes. The onion strings and chicken-fried steak are hand battered. And the restaurant has its own smoker for brisket, sausage and ribs.
Suman, of Quapaw, Oklahoma, said she and Sharbutt ate at the cafe quite a bit before it closed.
“They had a pretty good menu,” Suman said. “We’re hoping this is good.”
“If it’s good, we’ll be back,” Sharbutt added.

History
The building that houses Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs, which originally was home to the Crowell Bank, is of the Civil War era. It is said to have been robbed in 1876 by Jesse James and Cole Younger.

By Katie Lamb – The Joplin Globe

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

Oct 062014
 

goffs-schoolhouse








While driving across the east Mojave with my brother about 35 years ago, we came to a lonely crossroads where one very sad-looking building sat baking in the sun.

The crossroads is called Goffs, and the building — a one-room schoolhouse — sat in ruins with its roof ready to collapse. We stopped only briefly, dismissing it as one of those nameless relicts soon to be swallowed by an unfeeling desert.

About the same time, Dennis Casebier also stopped there, but while I saw a wreck, he saw history and a future.

Because of his insight and a lot of help from volunteers, there will be a special celebration in Goffs this weekend marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of the school and bright prospects for its future.

The refurbished schoolhouse building — whose last class was dismissed in June 1937 — is the core of a remarkable complex known as the Goffs Cultural Center. Many miles from the nearest town, it houses an unsurpassed collection of written material, photos and mining and railroad equipment of the heritage of the eastern Mojave.

This weekend’s celebration is the 35th Mojave Road Rendezvous, a get-together by members of the Friends of the Mojave Road on whom Casebier has counted on in the creation of the center. Hundreds will attend to meet, greet, enjoy, share stories and appreciate the saving of the schoolhouse which has twice been left to die.

A century ago, Goffs — sitting at the very top of a Santa Fe railroad grade 2,000 feet higher than Needles 40 miles to the east — once boasted about 60 residents, mostly railroad employees and their families.

The parents of the dozen or so children there wanted a school so a petition went to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors requesting one be opened. and the Goffs School District was soon formed. For $2,300, a local man named Tom Weir built the 800-square-foot classroom on donated acreage with instruction beginning in the fall of 1914.

By the Great Depression, however, Goffs was dying — in 1931 it actually was bypassed by Route 66 (now that’s a first) and then Santa Fe reduced its workforce there. After the school closed in 1937, what kids were left were bused to a new school up the highway in Essex.

The schoolhouse got a short rebirth in early World War II when Gen. George Patton trained thousands of troops in the desert for the invasion of North Africa. The school was briefly turned into a canteen where long lines of dusty soldiers could buy hamburgers, candy, cigarettes and cold drinks.

But when the troops left, the schoolhouse was left to rot.

On a March day in 1982, Casebier — then a Corona resident and employed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco — wasn’t planning on becoming a resident of Goffs, as he is today, or building a cultural center. He was just out in his Jeep exploring when he stopped at the schoolhouse.

“I had a roll of film left and thought I’d better take some pictures because the next time I saw it, I figured it would be a pile of rubble,” he said.

But there were others also interested in the old place. Jim and Bertha Wold, who had worked at ranches in the area, actually went ahead and bought it. With a lot of work, they made it into their home.

Casebier as part of his hobby of collecting the stories and history of the eastern Mojave struck up an acquaintance with the Wolds. When they decided to sell the schoolhouse in 1989 due to ill health, Casebier, now retired from the Navy job, decided to buy it and its 113 desert acres.

The rest is, well, history.

The schoolhouse complex now boasts 10,000 volumes on Mojave and Western history, 120,000 historic photos and 6,000 maps of the desert. He had also conducted 1,300 oral histories of pioneers, ranchers and school children of the eastern Mojave’s past.

The special activities at Goffs get underway Thursday with the dedication of the American Boy stamp mill, a rebuilt multi-ton piece of mining equipment used in years past to crush rock from the mines. On Saturday will be the huge raffle that generates funds to operate the center as well as a barbecue dinner. There will also be off-road tours of the desert landmarks throughout the weekend. To participate: email goffs@eastmojave.net. There are some camping facilities at Goffs.

If you visit, remember Goffs is many miles from the nearest motel (Needles or Laughlin), inexpensive gas (same) or food (same again), but it’s worth the trip either this weekend or in the future to get a taste of the West of days gone by. It’s 100 miles east of Barstow via the 40 Freeway, then north on Goffs Road for 12 miles.

POSTED:  |

Sep 142014
 

route-66-crusiers









Route 66 Cruisers Car Club is gearing up for its seventh annual car and motorcycle show Sept. 26-27 at Claremore Lake.

After starting in 2006, the club has grown to about 100 members and has gained national attention for its annual shows and charity events.
Ed Meacham established the club. As a car enthusiast, he joined the Tulsa Car Club, but after networking at several shows, he believed enough individuals in Claremore had a love for classic cars and would appreciate a local club. He was right.

The club began with only six founding members, but over the years has grown to a record of 160 members.
Meacham attributes the success to how active the club is in hosting swap meets, shows, cruises, and attending events.
“We get out and do a lot of stuff, and we really want to have money for charity,” said Meacham.
Shortly after starting the club, Meacham felt the club needed a driving purpose. Paul Kelsey, a local Shriner, expressed concern that their organization would fall short on providing toys to children for the upcoming Christmas. The need inspired Meacham to organize the club’s first toy run.
“If it can be done with motorcycles, it can be done with cars,” Meacham said, “We would line up for an all day cruise and start in one town and stop at businesses that collected toys for the Shriners.”
The toy run has been successful every year in helping the Shriners at Christmas, so much so that last year more toys were collected than the Shriners could give away. The additional toys were donated to the Good Samaritan Ministry.

Funds collected from the car shows and events are used to fund the Shriners’ effort to transport children to hospitals. The car club has also sent three veterans on an honor flight to Washington D.C. to visit the war memorials, and gave away a $500 scholarship to a Rogers State University student.
Along with its charitable efforts, the club is all about getting together with good friends and talking about a common love of classic cars, according to Meacham. Tall tales are common in the group, as well as practical jokes, and of course, a lot of laughter.
“Ted [the club president] always gets a trophy at every show — except at one,” said Meacham.
“Yeah, as judges passed my car, Ed yelled, ‘Hey guys, do not be fooling around with that car,’ so the judges moved on without judging it,” Ted Hancock said, laughing.

The group laughs, and Meacham holds strong to his story that he had no idea they were judges. The nature of the group is good fun, stories, and charity.
“We have a lot of fun; we go to fish frys and museums to show our cars. People contact us and ask for a display at a lot of different places,” said Meacham.
Leveraging technology has driven up membership over the years and has gained the club an international spotlight. The car club’s website has caught the attention of film crews from England working on a story about Route 66 and they plan to film the classic cars on a cruise. The website has had over 10 million views from people all over the world and maintains about 10,000 visitors every day.

The car show will include food and arts and crafts vendors, along with live entertainment, and of course, rows and rows of classic cars. There might even be a few “rat rods” competing, which are old cars from the 30s or 40s that have working engines but have been intentionally maintained as a junker.
Club membership is a $15 annual fee, but next year that price will increase to $20. Having a classic car is not a requirement to join the club, and there is plenty of room in other vehicles during cruises for those who lack a classic car. For more information about the Route 66 Cruisers Car Club or the upcoming show, visit www.Route66CruisersOK.org.

By Kristy Sturgill – The Daily Progress

Aug 312014
 

IL-route66-small








Shadows of the past already line Route 66, but the historic highway is about to gain nine more.

This year, a silhouette of Shirley Temple drinking a soda at an old Elkhart cafe and a figure of a Gillespie miner will appear among the collection of memorable stops along the Mother Road. The Illinois Route 66 National Scenic Byway has introduced iron silhouette statues depicting moments from history at nine Illinois communities along the highway.
Locally, Sherman in Sangamon County, Elkhart in Logan County, as well as Benld, Staunton and Gillespie in Macoupin County are preparing to install the interpretive statues.

Bill Kelly, executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, said the initiative will allow tourists to create connections with the towns along the route through the visuals. The interpretive statues will help visitors imagine the dancers on the floor at the dance hall in Benld and visualize the children at a wayside park in Sherman.
“What they’re looking for is a unique experience,” Kelly said. “It strikes a mythic chord with people. … It’s the most famous road in the world, and people are looking for their own experiences.”

The Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byway Program and the Illinois Office of Tourism funded the roughly $130,000 project. Each silhouette comes with an informational kiosk that gives a glimpse of the town’s history. Kelly said he’d like to see all of the exhibits on display by the end of 2014.

Memorable moments
While the grant money paid for the statues, the individual communities are responsible for installation costs. Many are still trying to determine display locations and ribbon-cutting days.
Elkhart, for its part, is trying to raise $500 to pay for the concrete that will help support its 300-plus-pound Shirley Temple statue.
Peggy Lee, an alderman in Elkhart, said the town’s exhibit focuses on the restaurant stops there during the 1930s and ’40s. The silhouette of Temple and a waitress commemorates the iconic actress’ stop at the House by the Side of the Road Cafe in 1938. She had used Route 66 on her way to Springfield for the “Little Miss Broadway” movie premiere.

“The owner of the cafe roped off the place where she had eaten, and no one ever sat there again,” Lee said.
Benld’s statue features dancers from the Coliseum Ballroom, which burned in 2011. During the Route 66 era, the ballroom was known as the biggest dance floor between Chicago and St. Louis, as well as a hot spot for gambling and bootlegging. The dance floor welcomed large crowds and, at the height of its popularity, hosted musicians such as Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Ike and Tina Turner.

In Sherman, the statue of two children sitting at a picnic table highlights something many have forgotten. John Swinford, village administrator, said Sherman is home to one of Route 66’s last remaining wayside parks. While the space today is empty land with a flag pole, the park once welcomed crowds needing a place for lunch as they traveled the famed highway.
“It’s nostalgic, kind of, with two kids sitting at a picnic table as you might have found back in the day,” Swinford said. “Just to kind of point to the fact to remind people how it used to (be) before there was Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s on every corner.”

‘Part of road’s DNA’
The silhouette of a miner in Gillespie identifies how the town began.
Councilman Dave Tucker said towns like Gillespie popped up around mines. His town only had four years on Route 66, a fact hardly noted in town history or old newspapers. Most people in Gillespie walked to work and didn’t use the highway. Yet Kelly noted that the coal that came from these pop-up towns used the Mother Road extensively.
“Coal is part of the road’s DNA,” Kelly said.

The Staunton statue portrays the Illinois Traction System, also known as streetcars.
Bill Bechem, who served on a committee for developing the Staunton statue, said both streetcars and the highway took a hit with the evolution of transportation. Streetcars eventually became obsolete with the use of personal cars, just as the interstate highway system robbed Route 66 of its travelers.
“My thoughts were that the streetcar was kind of a rise and decline that was similar to Route 66, and both suffered when Interstate 55 came,” he said.

While nostalgia for Route 66 has declined locally, international tourists still embrace the old pavement. Swinford said it’s not uncommon to see a visitor taking a picture of their feet standing on the old concrete. It always amazes him that European tourists leave behind structures more than 1,000 years old to take pictures of 80-year-old pavement.
He hopes the statues along the Illinois corridor bring a little more tourism but also a little more local awareness.
“There are a great number of people in this community that just don’t remember or know how much of Route 66 they have,” Swinford said of Sherman’s wayside park. “Some people don’t even recognize that park was part of Route 66. That really is America’s Main Street, and it is such a vital part of our town.”

By Maggie Menderski – The State Journal Register

Aug 242014
 

angel-route-66






Yavapai County has helped its Route 66 communities of Seligman and Ash Fork celebrate their history with new Historic US 66 shield signs painted right onto the highway, with a healthy dose of new Burma-Shave signs on the side.

That should slightly lighten the workload of the mysterious man who travels Route 66 painting the shields onto the road under cover of darkness. Seligman native Clarissa Delgadillo says the legend is widespread across the Mother Road.

“A couple times a year, the shields appear,” Delgadillo said, and then the Arizona Department of Transportation gets rid of them because ADOT has Route 66 jurisdiction in Seligman and Ash Fork.

Her sister Mirna once spotted a man leaving a safety cone in front of her family’s Route 66 Gift Shop right before the shield reappeared, but didn’t get a good description of him.

ADOT officials are concerned that tourists will stand on the road on top of the shields for photos, spokesman Dustin Krugel explained.

But Yavapai County has jurisdiction on the rest of the mostly uninhabited Route 66 segments through this county, so county Public Works employees recently painted the large shields on each end of Seligman as well as Route 66 near the Interstate 40 Crookton Exit and Ash Fork.

route-66-shield
County Public Works employees also crafted four new sets of replica Burma-Shave signs with the blessing of the current owners of the defunct company, Yavapai County Supervisor Craig Brown said. Local citizens picked out their favorite sayings.

A brushless shaving cream company called Burma-Shave came up with the idea in 1925 to place catchy poems along America’s highways and get its name known. Route 66 was born the next year in 1926. Each of the series of typically red and white signs contains one line of a poem.

“Listen birds, these signs cost money, so roost awhile, but don’t get funny,” one of the new sets of signs reads outside Seligman.

The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona has been working with ADOT, counties and municipalities to play up the Mother Road while also trying to make it safer, Mirna Delgadillo said.

“We definitely are trying to preserve and protect Seligman,” she added, praising the county’s help.

“Anything we can do to promote economic development, we’re going to do,” Brown said. By making the signs in-house they cost only about $1,000, he estimated. The county also rehabilitated other Burma Shave signs it originally made and placed on the highway as far back as 2002.

“They help bring nostalgia back for tourists,” librarian Charlotte Lindemuth said. “They’re so interested in the history of Route 66.”

Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona members in Seligman, including the Delgadillo family led by association founder Angel Delgadillo, are concerned about visitors from around the world being able to stroll across the four-lane highway in town, which has no stop signs or lights.

They asked ADOT for two crosswalks and a lower speed limit of 25 instead of the current 35.

ADOT’s preliminary analysis concludes the crossings don’t meet its standard requirements because there isn’t a concentrated area where pedestrians try to cross the highway, Krugel said.

Traffic speeds also seem appropriate as traffic is generally in compliance with the 35 mph limit, Krugel and the regional traffic engineer said.

Clarissa and Mirna Delgadillo say they frequently sees vehicles speeding through town, however.

ADOT hopes to have a final analysis on the crossings and speed limits sometime this year, the regional traffic engineer said.

The Seligman Historical Society also has been trying to restore the 1912 Cottage Hotel that has been serving as a visitors center, Lindemuth said. Community members would like to create a museum there, too.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has awarded Seligman a grant to get asbestos and lead out of historic structure.

“Anything we can do to preserve old historic buildings, we’d better do or we’re going to lose them,” Brown said.

To support the efforts to restore the Cottage Hotel, go online to seligmanhistory.com.

By: Joanna Dodder – The Daily Courier

Aug 042014
 

tulsa-route-66-experience








More than nine months after announcing it was seeking proposals to construct and operate a Route 66 interpretive center and commercial complex, the city is reviewing the one response it received.
“What we have, basically, is more questions,” said City Planning Director Dawn Warrick.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett in October announced that the city would begin seeking requests for proposals for the project, which is to be built on two acres of city land at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive.
Warrick said it is not unusual for the city to take this long to review a Request for Proposal, or RFP — especially on a project as complicated as the Route 66 center.

It’s not like it’s sitting stagnant,” Warrick said of the RFP. “The scope of this project is very large and it involves a lot of moving parts.

“It’s a complicated project and it’s a complicated site.”
The interpretive center and commercial complex is to be built on city land across the street from the East Meets West bronze sculpture at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive.

City officials last year said they were looking for a private developer to come up with a plan that makes sense in terms of density, scale and height.

The development could have restaurants, retail space and even a hotel but must include space for a Route 66 interpretive center, officials said.

The city would retain ownership of the property and lease it to the developer.
The RFP was purposely broad to allow the private sector to help define amenities that would meet the city’s goals for the site.

The city plans to spend $6.5 million for the project, including $1.5 million in Vision 2025 funds and $5 million in third-penny sales tax revenue.
The city in May finalized its agreement with Tulsa County making the Vision 2025 funding available.

Businesswoman Sharon King Davis was one of a group of local business owners and professionals asked by the city to advise in putting the RFP together and reviewing responses.
The proposal the city received came from a consortium of local individuals — each of whom is outstanding, King Davis said. “If we can get this thing to fly it will be so fabulous for this city,” she said.
King Davis — who stressed that the decision now lies in the hands of the city — said the consortium has the capital to make the project happen.

“It is a tight project,” she said. “It is just a matter of checking and double checking and making sure on behalf of Tulsa that they can do it.”

City Councilor Blake Ewing has long advocated that the city do more to promotes its link to the Mother Road.
A Route 66 interpretive center — commonly referred to as the Route 66 experience — would benefit the city culturally and economically, he said.

“While many Tulsans may not believe it, Route 66 brings a substantial flow of international visitors through Tulsa,” Ewing said. “A sales tax revenue-funded city should always be thinking of ways to attract and capitalize on its visitors. Route 66 should be at the top of our list as an attractional community asset. The Route 66 Experience represents a tremendous step in the right direction.”

By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer

Jun 262014
 

styx-paradise theater











Back in 1981, before the last mile of Route 66 was on its way to be decommissioned, I remember this album cover and remembering how sad I felt as I watched history disappear.

Growing up on the north side of Chicago and being a ‘city boy’, I always had a thing for history, architecture, and Chicago history and Chicago architecture.

Like a lot of folks, one seems to start having a connection with bands from your home town. We had the Buckinghams, Styx, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Survivor, Cheap Trick, the Ides of March and many other Chicago area bands. I loved Styx and I loved Chicago and would listen to EVERYTHING they made, even albums out before I was born (OK, there was only one but who is counting…)

I remember the Paradise Theater album in the collection my father had, and I remember just staring at the details in the artwork. I then remember listening to the album as it was about the rise and fall of the Paradise Theater which did actually exist in the city of Chicago, so it was a literal musical biography of this once grand venue.

From Wikipedia:
“The Paradise Theatre was a Balaban and Katz movie palace located in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood. Its address was 231 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60624. Located near the intersection of West Madison Street and Crawford Avenue (now Pulaski Road) on Chicago’s West Side, it opened on September 14, 1928, and was billed as the world’s most beautiful theater for its stunning interior and exterior beauty. It is regarded as one of the finest designs by architect John Eberson, as the sheer opulence and intricate craftsmanship that went into the theater made it a showpiece in and of itself. Unfortunately, flaws in the design (blamed on the vast domed ceiling in the over 3,600-seat auditorium) were exposed with the advent of talking pictures. Poor acoustics eventually cost the theater its attendance as neighborhood movie-goers would eventually turn to the nearby Marks Brothers showplace, the Marbro Theater. As a result, business at the Paradise never recovered.

The Paradise Theatre’s demise came in 1956, when Balaban and Katz decided to demolish the building and sell the land to a supermarket chain. The theater that was “built to stand forever” almost lived up to that claim: what was estimated to have been a six-month demolition job ended up taking two years.”

I remember looking at the album over and over and just wondering what it was like to see this place all lit up and packed to the rafters with well dressed folks on a “night on the town” at such a majestic place. I then remember flipping the album cover over and seeing the artists rendition of a broken down, ruined, old looking, empty building with ‘Temporarily Closed’ on the marquee. I was 12, and I knew this place would never open again (remember, I was 12 and this place was closed when my parents were children, but it felt more alive to me at that time.)

I was saddened by the fact places like these seem to go away, and not only some folks do not seem to care – they do not know places like this even existed. With my sights on getting through high school and wanting to get a degree in Architecture, I always felt I could do something about not letting this happen again.

Fast forward to 2009, almost 30 years later, this plan has come into reality. When I started Route 66 World – I had no idea preservation would be my passion on Route 66. I was planning on just enjoying it and being one of the many ‘roadies’ who just want to get on the open road and enjoy everything it has to offer.

I always say this and I will continue to say this: Route 66 has enough to do and see for everyone to have there own little slice of what they would like to contribute to the route. I tell everyone I try to do a lot of this with my own time and money and I mean that – I love the route and I wish I could just pack up the SUV and drive it everyday with paint brush and hammer in hand, stopping at places where they could use a hand and some guidance.

Thinking back, I realize you never know what any given impression could have on a child. The trip they didn’t want to take on the route, or to grandma’s or to anywhere they dread going to. One little thing could set their lives on a different path than they ever could have imagined.

For me it was an album cover………

Jun 242014
 

FSG-sign-new








I am starting to put together a project plan on what needs to be done to the building, when to do it and what it will cost me.

The Front Street Garage sign, to me, was the first priority.

I have contracted Doug and Sharon Quarles of Quarles Art Gallery in Benson AZ to work on this one with me. We all know them from all of the work they have done in Tucumcari with the murals, buildings and signs they have helped paint over the years. These murals and the many other things the Quarles have painted are one of the many projects which helped make Tucumcari the destination it now is. I have worked with Doug on a few projects and could not think of any other artists to work with.

I showed Doug the picture of the station in 1941 and I wanted him to recreate the sign to as close as original as possible BUT at the same time, make it a little more sharp and crisp as if a professional painted it taking their time and putting some care into it – versus someone grabbing some board and just painting a sign.

The sign is 2′ tall be 4′ wide and will hang where the original sign was. I knew the original colors but wanted to make the background of the sign a dark green as I think it just looks classic this way.

I will have the sign shipped from Arizona to Allen Sign Studio in Miami OK for them to create the bracket which will support the sign and will be able to mount it. The sign will be put up (hopefully) later this year / early next year as I really need to focus on the facade of the building.

FSG-signHere is the pic of what the original sign looked like. I think it is important to try to keep this building looking as period correct as possible….

Doug will be doing most of the sign work as well as a few other things, I will do some painting and other things with the building and Allen Sign Studio will help me restore the original neon sign from the late 40′s which I also want to hang on the front of the building.

More to come…