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Route 66 News

The Tropics building in Lincoln torn down

Residents of Lincoln, Illinois, saw the end of an era Saturday when the long-closed building for The Tropics restaurant was torn down.

The razing of the building had been planned for months to make way for a McDonald’s restaurant.

However, the Lincoln Courier reports that the demolition crew let Tami Goodrich, daughter of longtime The Tropics owners Bev and Lew Johnson, tour the building before starting its work.

“They let us walk through it one more time and also asked if we wanted some bricks from the front,” said Goodrich. […]

Goodrich said the timing of the demolition also coincided with the death of her father, which made her smile.

“It’s odd for this to happen the day before Easter because Dad passed on Easter so I believe he played a part in this.”

Brief video of the demolition may be seen here.

The demolition doesn’t erase all traces of The Tropics, however. A tourism bureau and a panel plan to re-erect The Tropics neon sign in the McDonald’s parking lot, probably later this year.

Goodrich also told the newspaper that some bricks from the building also would be used as a structure around the sign.

The neon sign was taken down in April 2014 after the The Tropics property changed hands, and the sign was put into storage.

The Tropics opened along Route 66 in 1950. Original owner Vince Schwenoha once lived in California and drew inspiration from its palm trees when he dreamed up of his business in Illinois. The Johnsons bought The Tropics in 1955 and ran it for more than 40 years. The restaurant went through a spate of fitful reopenings after Interstate 55 bypassed the town, and it finally closed for good in 2004.

(Screen capture of The Tropics demolition from Lincoln Courier video)

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