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Route 66 News

Shea’s Gas Station Museum soon will be auctioned

Shea's Gas Station Museum, Springfield, IL

Everything at Shea’s Gas Station Museum in Springfield, Illinois — including the land on which it sits — soon will be auctioned almost two years after the patriarch’s death at age 91.

A bunch of outdoor equipment at the site is slated to be auctioned by Darrell L. Adcock Auction Service starting at 10 a.m. Oct. 10.

Bill Shea Jr., son of longtime museum owner Bill Shea, said during a telephone interview another auction of some memorabilia inside the station is slated for Nov. 21.

Shea also said there also will be an online auction of his father’s memorabilia at a to-be-determined date.

Bill Shea Jr. said he and his family entertained offers for the station and all its contents since his father’s death in December 2013, but with no takers.

Shea said he appreciated what the Route 66 community did for his father and the museum over the years, but he said it was time to do something.

“I can’t run it, and I’m getting up there in age, too,” he said, “and my kids have better jobs and didn’t want to run it.”

Tiffany Baker, Bill Shea Jr.’s daughter and the administrator for the Shea’s Route 66 Museum page on Facebook, posted this on Friday:

Although over the past two to three years, the collection as a whole has been up for sale so there was a chance for someone to buy…no one came forward. As a small family and my dad as the only child, it is not feasible for our family to maintain this. It is very easy for others to say that it should be continued, but they fail to realize this was a hobby for my grandfather and his personal collection of many many years. My family has grown up there. We had visitors turn away at points because they didn’t want to give a $3 admission. My grandfather used his own funds to keep this running. He didn’t even make enough in a year to keep the utilities on. He paid majority from his own pocket. As a family with families of our own and jobs with benefits, we cannot maintain or run it. I understand people feel this should be shared with everyone but this is also my fathers inheritance so I find it very offensive when people feel he should donate it. It is a strange inheritance. When others inherit money from their family, no one asks them to donate it. Everyone has their own opinion but until you are in his shoes, don’t throw stones. I haven’t seen anyone step forward to pay the taxes or insurance on it so think of the extra expense it has caused. It is a very precious piece of our family history, but the time has come. My dad has worked his whole life and deserves to do something that he chooses to do. The past 5 years have been extremely stressful for him and our family as he took care of my grandparents and visited them daily when they had to go to a nursing home, not to mention their passing. The station was all that was left after all the expenses. He deserves every bit of it as he spent all his extra time helping gpa run it since he was a small child. I wish it could have stayed open as well but the chance was there and no one took it and those that tried wanted it for nothing. I am grateful for those who had the opportunity to visit while it was open and had such a great appreciation for it. It meant the world to my grandpa, dad and the rest of us. I am not targeting just these comments but I have continously seen comments over the past few years saying the same things. I try to ignore these things but at some point it gets a little upsetting. I am not trying to upset anyone with my comments but feel we should get our say as well. If you have negative comments, please keep it to yourself and off our page. Thx so much for those who have been supportive! I hope you all cherish the memories of your visits like we cherish our memories and family history!

The elder Bill Shea, a veteran of the D-Day invasion in World War II, started in the gas-station business in 1946. He owned Marathon and Texaco stations in Springfield. Later in life, Shea converted a Marathon station on Route 66 into a museum filled with gas station and other memorabilia. Shea greeted thousands of Route 66 travelers from dozens of countries over the years.

Shea was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993. Dec. 30, 2011, was declared Bill Shea Day in Springfield in honor of his 90th birthday.

After Shea was admitted to a nursing home the last year of life, Bill Jr. reopened the gas station by appointment until his father’s death.

(Hat tip to Rich Henry; image of Shea’s Route 66 Gas Station Museum in 2011 by Terry via Flickr)

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5 thoughts on “Shea’s Gas Station Museum soon will be auctioned

  1. DynoDave

    Well said by Bill Sr.’s grand daughter. I hope this brings the family some closure.

    I hope the items find good homes, especially along the Route.

    1. Gary

      But, you’re not allowed to question that. (See the note from the Museum Administrator)
      After all, it’s THEIR inheritance, and THEY worked hard for it.
      Now if they were worried less about the money and maybe more about the senior Mr. Shay’s place in history…
      But they aren’t, and that is sad.

  2. Lane Stripe

    Of course, we must understand the Shea family’s position. The enterprise must earn at least as much as it costs to run it, or it’s a No-Go. It’s a tragedy for Route 66 that this collection will be broken up. I’m a little surprised that a museum or at least a wealthy collector didn’t step up to the plate. The Shea Museum has great potential on an expanded site (which it desperately needed), in the hands of a competent curator with an appropriate interpretive scheme. Again, such a tragedy.

  3. Steve

    The family should do this. The family should do that. Okay. The family has their own life and jobs. In this day and age I don’t blame them for not taking a risk and reopening a tourist spot. Would people pay maybe $5 each to look around. Maybe, maybe not. I hope a museum picks up most of the stuff so it can be on proper display. Cut the Shea family some slack.

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