Bill Shea’s Route 66 Museum in Springfield, Illinois, has been put on the market after the property cleared probate following the longtime owner’s death in December, reported the Springfield State Journal-Register.
The newspaper noted the museum’s Facebook page had this message a few days ago:
According to the newspaper:
[Bill] Shea Jr. said last week that for-sale signs likely would go up soon as he begins to more actively market the property. He said he has not yet decided on an asking price.
“If someone comes along, we’ll work it out,” Shea said.
The museum, long operated by former gas-station operator and memorabilia collector Bill Shea, closed except for appointments in late 2012 after Shea became too frail and was moved into a nursing home. He died at age 91 about a year later.
Bill Shea Sr. started his career in the filling-station business after leaving the military in 1946 — the latter which included the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. He owned Marathon and Texaco stations. Shea later converted a Marathon station on Route 66 into a museum of gas-station memorabilia that included a 1920s gas station moved from Middletown, Illinois. Shea greeted thousands of Route 66 travelers from dozens of countries at his museum.
Shea was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993.
The city of Springfield has long talked about establishing a Route 66 visitors center, including the now-fading possibility of buying the decrepit Bel-Air Motel and converting it. But this opportunity may be better for all parties involved — if the city is wise enough to grab it. And there may be more urgency for Springfield to make a move — especially when Bloomington, Illinois, is building a Route 66 visitors center that’s slated to open in the spring.
UPDATE: Here’s a report by WICS-TV in Springfield:
(Image of Bill Shea’s museum by John Hagstrom via Flickr)