Route 66 News

Bel-Air sign sits waiting — for now

Wally Spiers of the Belleville News-Democrat talks to the owner of the Bel-Air Drive-In sign on old Route 66 near Mitchell, Ill.

The drive-in theater has been closed for 20 years, but the marquee still stands. Owner Larry Manns hasn’t done much to shore it up, but also he seems reluctant to part with it.

“The village of Pontoon Beach has talked about rehabilitating it,” he said. “A couple of people have called, wanting to buy it. I’m not real keen to sell it to anyone. I like it. I grew up with it.”

But if there is an opportunity to make a good profit, he might be tempted to part with the sign.

“I really don’t want to take it down, but if someone happens to want to develop that piece of property it is on, who’s to say what might happen?” he said. “I’m open to suggestions.”

A photo of the Bel-Air sign can be seen here.


3 thoughts on “Bel-Air sign sits waiting — for now

  1. Peter Stork

    That intersection just off of I-270 has built up incredibly fast over the past five years, with a massive truck stop caddy corner to the old Bel-Air lot and several gigantic warehouses just a mile east on 66. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the lot developed in the next several years. Hopefully the sign will be saved.

  2. redforkhippie

    If I were a developer, I’d insist on keeping the sign as a condition of buying the property. Call the development the “Bel-Air” something-or-other (Bel-Air Estates, Bel-Air Industrial Park, Bel-Air Shopping Center, Bel-Air Whatever Strikes Your Fancy) and incorporate the marquee into the design for the property. Voila — instant logo, and highly recognizable. They did this with the Airway Drive-In marquee in St. Ann, Mo., and it turned out really cute. The Airway’s high-stepping neon majorette, with her spinning neon baton, is certainly an eye-catching way to draw customers’ attention. Adaptive reuse at its finest.

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