Bill Shea’s Gas Station Museum along Route 66 in Springfield, Ill., is now open by appointment with help from the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau after being closed for much of the late winter and spring.
The increasingly frail Shea, 91, was admitted to a nursing home in December. His son, Bill Jr., closed the gas station at 2075 Peoria Road until the visitors bureau offered to be a scheduling go-between so the landmark could be reopened periodically.
If you want to make an appointment to visit the station, call 800-545-7300. A motor coach group and a few individuals already have taken advantage of the service in recent weeks.
Kim Rosendahl, director of tourism at the bureau, said Bill Jr. will open the station “as much as he can,” but noted much of his time is eaten up taking care of his father and stepmother.
Rosendahl said Bill Sr. goes to the station only “rarely.” So, if you make an appointment there, don’t count on him showing up.
The museum — a former Marathon station — contains an impressive mix of vintage gas station items, including gas pumps, phone booths, signs, photos, and even the former Mahan’s Station, rumored to be the oldest filling station in Illinois. Shea was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993.
(Bill Shea, left, in his gas station museum in 2008. Image via gobucks2 on Flickr)