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Springfield, Ill., considers yet another site for Route 66 museum March 12, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Museums.

With the razing of a century-old icehouse, city leaders in Springfield, Ill., are considering yet another site for a Route 66 visitors center, reported the Springfield State Journal-Register.

The long-vacant Central Illinois Power Co. icehouse at 918 E. Edwards St. (map here) is being torn down by owner Joe Chernis. Due to the site’s proximity to Ninth Street (aka Route 66), the city is ramping up talks again to set up its stalled Route 66 museum.

Chernis said he has had discussions with city and tourism officials about possible uses for the property, including the on-and-off idea of a Route 66 visitor center and museum. Ninth Street is among the routes followed by the historic route through Springfield.

But as with past efforts — including the proposed conversion of the Bel-Aire motel at 2636 S. Sixth St. — there is no money for construction. […]

City economic development director Mike Farmer said officials agreed to discuss the Route 66 concept at Chernis’ request, but Farmer agreed there is no money to pursue the idea.

The fact the property lies outside a tax-increment financing district doesn’t help. But one of its big assets is it’s close to the historic Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

But it’s probable that Springfield’s window to establishing such a museum has passed. Litchfield, less than 50 miles away, soon will open its own Route 66 visitors center. And with Route 66-related museums already running in Berwyn, Joliet, and Pontiac, one has to wonder whether the number of such museums in the Land of Lincoln has reached a saturation level.

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