The city of Joplin, Missouri, recently bought a long-abandoned 1920s garage building that it plans to convert into a Route 66 attraction — most likely a visitors center, reported the Joplin Globe.
Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the newspaper the city had purchased the garage at 1109 Broadway (also known as Langston Hughes) and adjoining properties for $18,500 with motel-tax funds. A researcher determined the garage was an auto repair shop as far back as 1920.
Here’s a Google Street View image of the building:
Plans for the property are vague, mostly because it requires a lot of TLC:
Plans in the near term call for the lots to be cleared and cleaned of rubble and brush. A parking area could be established. There is a concrete floor where the office once stood that could be cleaned, repaired and converted into a sitting area for visitors, perhaps with a flower garden area planted at one side.
A concrete block wall on the side of the garage could become a canvas for a mural or a backdrop for artwork of some kind related to Route 66.
“We just have to explore our options,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle signaled that Joplin felt the need to up its game with Route 66 tourism, and cited the example of nearby Kansas.
“People travel Route 66 and they just fly through Joplin. They don’t have a lot of reasons to stop, other than food and gas. We want to give them more reasons to do so,” Tuttle said. “The more they stop in town, the more likely they are to hit our shops, hit our restaurants, hit our hotels, spend more time.
“You look at Cherokee County over in Kansas, 13 miles, the shortest distance (of the highway) of any through eight states, and they have several gift shops, several attractions. You look at Jasper County, there’s one visitor center and one gift shop, and we’ve got 50 miles of Route 66.”