The Mill restaurant of Lincoln, Illinois, on Saturday reopened as local history museum, capping a decade-long effort to restore the dilapidated Route 66 landmark after it closed in 1996.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was there to attend the ceremonial ribbon (thankfully, the ceremony was indoors, as virtually of Illinois was drenched by torrential rainstorms). Video is by the Lincoln Courier:
According to the newspaper, Rauner had this to say about The Mill and Route 66 in general:
“Route 66 is one of the most iconic, special places anywhere in America. It is what America is about — the freedom of the road, exploring our communities … and coming to the local tourist destinations. Tourism is a driver of jobs and economic opportunity. Route 66 is going to be a boom in tourist destinations in the future, and The Mill is going to be a major part of that.”
Photos from roadies show The Mill contains lots of memorabilia from The Mill and Hallie’s on the Square, the latter a now-closed restaurant in Lincoln that used some of The Mill’s props and recipes.
More details on The Mill’s contents from the Courier:
Inside, the museum has items from local restaurants including the former Pig Hip Restaurant in Broadwell. They also have transportation-themed items such as a robot display from the former Illico gas station in Lincoln.
Visitors also can look up and see a prop leg that appears to fall through the ceiling. The leg was a part of the restaurant, and was typical of some of the unique attractions people saw as they drove along Route 66.
It’s fitting Geoff Ladd cut the ribbon to open The Mill. Ladd, former president of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County and now program manager at the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, back in 2006 saw the potential of a terrible-looking property and marshaled local forces to save it and help raise $90,000 to renovate it. It’s one of the best Route 66 resurrection stories out there.
The Mill, which featured a Dutch-inspired design and a turning windmill, opened on U.S. 66 in 1929. The Mill has been inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame.
The Mill, at 738 S. Washington St. in Lincoln (map here), is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
(Image of The Mill in Lincoln, Illinois, on its reopening day by Ron Ferguson via Facebook)