The Old Station on old Route 66 in Williamsville, Illinois, changed hands a few months ago, and the new caretaker plans to keep much of the building’s old look.
Keith A. Sculle wrote in The 66 News, published by the Illinois Route 66 Association, that Jason L. Hayward bought The Old Station at 117 N. Elm St. in October.
Some of the work will be self-evident because many repairs are essential due to their avoidance over the last few years. His business will not pump gasoline, yet he will preserve the pumps so that the station can have an “old gas station look,” in Hayward’s eyes. The center bay and bay on the south side will be his “hobby garage” where he can simply restore cars and motorcycles for his own use, while the bay on the north side will be a coffee shop where people can sit and locals can “hang out” but will also double as a drive through.
Hayward has experience in repurposing old structures into more useful things — he converted a ramshackle 1930s corn crib into a 5,000-square-foot home for his family north of Williamsville.
Frank Kohlrus was the longtime eccentric operator of The Old Station. Here’s a film about him and his station from 2011:
Roadside America devoted a page to Kohlrus and his place. This reader entry from 2008 captured the flavor of it as well as any:
I cannot put my finger on … nor can any other true trooper traveling down Route 66, as to what it is exactly that draws a person of sound mind to Frank’s. Could be the truck sticking out of the front of the station, literally…with a sign that says it’s for sale. You guessed it — half off. It’s the corny stuff like this that draws people, I guess. He gets folks from all walks of life, on bikes, Harleys, walkers, Roadsters…and he is just a truly lovely human with a wide grin, bright eyes. A character full of character. Much memorabilia and kind of weird stuff and ummm… well, inventions that probably had no purpose for being invented. Just something for Frank to do, I guess.
Oh, and soda is only 25 cents from the machine.
Unfortunately, Kohlrus’ place in recent years had been open only intermittently, if at all.
(Excerpted Google Street View of the Old Station in Williamsville, Illinois)