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Route 66 News

Underpass Cafe exterior near Phillipsburg to be restored

The exterior of the Underpass Cafe building east of Phillipsburg, Missouri, that has been closed for about 60 years will be restored by the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society.

According to a post this week by Gary Sosniecki on the society’s webpage:

Gary McMillan, whose family has owned the property since 1969, has given permission for the group to clean and paint the exterior, Jones said. McMillan met at the site with several members of the Route 66 Society on a recent Saturday.

McMillan said he hoped the group can “get it to where people can get out and take pictures.”

According to the book “Route 66 in the Missouri Ozarks” by Joe Sonderman: “In 1941, O.E. Carter and Ed Lawson erected a prefabricated gas station west of the Frisco Railroad overpass known as ‘the Subway.’ Many truckers had to let the air out of their tires or detour around the 13-foot-5-inch bridge.”

McMillan said westbound truckers then stopped at the station to reflll their tires.

Sonderman wrote that in 1950, Carter and Lawson added a café building and moved their operations there from Lebanon.

The cafe closed shortly after a new alignment of Route 66 — now Interstate 44 — opened in 1967.

The society wants to bring back the lettering on the building and neon tubing, but no working neon lights, along with installing a sign describing the site’s history.

The group also  may build a replica of the gas station, but that’s in the long-term.

The gas station building is long-gone, but the cafe building remains next to some grain bins and other farm storage structures. The cafe once was a hog house; it’s now used for storage.

You can see the cafe building from Google Street View here. It sits on Route W less than a mile east of Pine Street that goes into Phillipsburg city limits.

(Hat tip to Jax Welborn; old postcard image of the Underpass Cafe and gas station courtesy of 66postcards.com; excerpted image of the Underpass Cafe building in 2012 via Google Street View)

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