The long-in-coming restoration of the historic Sprague Super Service station in Normal, Illinois, will culminate with a grand opening Saturday, where it will be rechristened as Ryburn Place.
The station will be renamed after Route 66 enthusiast Terri Ryburn, who purchased the property more than a decade ago and slowly and steadily began to restore it until the town of Normal intervened, bought the station and sped up the process in the past year.
Festivities will be from 6 to 9 p.m.. Saturday with a ribbon-cutting, an unveiling of a plaque from the National Register of Historic Places, a food truck to serve meals and snacks, and entertainment by a local band, Wagon Load of Trouble.
According to a news release from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway:
“Thanks to the Town of Normal who share my vision of restoring this building to its former glory, I am opening a Route 66 information center and gift shop on the first floor,” said Ryburn. “Featured will be Route 66 t-shirts, postcards, books, and memorabilia. Also featured is the work of local artists: original watercolors and prints, photographs, handmade cards, hand-dyed silk scarves, hand-woven baskets, creative crochet, and more.” […]
“One of the great things about the Mother Road is that attractions on the Road are able to re-invent themselves while still preserving their Route 66 essence. Ryburn Place at Sprague’s Super Service is a wonderful example of this phenomena,” said William Kelly, executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
The Bloomington Pantagraph published a long story this week about Ryburn and the station. The whole story is worth your time, but here are some highlights:
- Regular hours of the visitors center, which will be run by Ryburn, will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
- Ryburn spent $90,000 of her money over the years trying to shore up the historic station.
- Alas, her husband died in 2011, a few years after she purchased the property and they moved into its second floor.
- The Ryburn Place station now has its own dedicated website.
Sprague Super Service was built in 1931 on Route 66 by William Sprague. It was uniquely designed as a two-story gas station and residence. It sold City Service gas, but morphed into other businesses by the 1940s. The pumps were removed by 1979.
(Image of Sprague Super Service station, aka Ryburn Place, via Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway)