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Bill Shea’s Route 66 Museum put up for sale November 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation.
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14a Springfield IL - Bill Shea's Petroliana Museum 22

Bill Shea’s Route 66 Museum in Springfield, Illinois, has been put on the market after the property cleared probate following the longtime owner’s death in December, reported the Springfield State Journal-Register.

The newspaper noted the museum’s Facebook page had this message a few days ago:

According to the newspaper:

[Bill] Shea Jr. said last week that for-sale signs likely would go up soon as he begins to more actively market the property. He said he has not yet decided on an asking price.

“If someone comes along, we’ll work it out,” Shea said.

The museum, long operated by former gas-station operator and memorabilia collector Bill Shea, closed except for appointments in late 2012 after Shea became too frail and was moved into a nursing home. He died at age 91 about a year later.

Bill Shea Sr. started his career in the filling-station business after leaving the military in 1946 — the latter which included the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. He owned Marathon and Texaco stations. Shea later converted a Marathon station on Route 66 into a museum of gas-station memorabilia that included a 1920s gas station moved from Middletown, Illinois. Shea greeted thousands of Route 66 travelers from dozens of countries at his museum.

Shea was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993.

The city of Springfield has long talked about establishing a Route 66 visitors center, including the now-fading possibility of buying the decrepit Bel-Air Motel and converting it. But this opportunity may be better for all parties involved — if the city is wise enough to grab it. And there may be more urgency for Springfield to make a move — especially when Bloomington, Illinois, is building a Route 66 visitors center that’s slated to open in the spring.

UPDATE: Here’s a report by WICS-TV in Springfield:

(Image of Bill Shea’s museum by John Hagstrom via Flickr)

Joplin buys old Route 66 garage November 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Towns.
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The city of Joplin, Missouri, recently bought a long-abandoned 1920s garage building that it plans to convert into a Route 66 attraction — most likely a visitors center, reported the Joplin Globe.

Patrick Tuttle,  director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the newspaper the city had purchased the garage at 1109 Broadway (also known as Langston Hughes) and adjoining properties for $18,500 with motel-tax funds. A researcher determined the garage was an auto repair shop as far back as 1920.

Here’s a Google Street View image of the building:

Plans for the property are vague, mostly because it requires a lot of TLC:

Plans in the near term call for the lots to be cleared and cleaned of rubble and brush. A parking area could be established. There is a concrete floor where the office once stood that could be cleaned, repaired and converted into a sitting area for visitors, perhaps with a flower garden area planted at one side.

A concrete block wall on the side of the garage could become a canvas for a mural or a backdrop for artwork of some kind related to Route 66.

“We just have to explore our options,” Tuttle said.

Tuttle signaled that Joplin felt the need to up its game with Route 66 tourism, and cited the example of nearby Kansas.

“People travel Route 66 and they just fly through Joplin. They don’t have a lot of reasons to stop, other than food and gas. We want to give them more reasons to do so,” Tuttle said. “The more they stop in town, the more likely they are to hit our shops, hit our restaurants, hit our hotels, spend more time.

“You look at Cherokee County over in Kansas, 13 miles, the shortest distance (of the highway) of any through eight states, and they have several gift shops, several attractions. You look at Jasper County, there’s one visitor center and one gift shop, and we’ve got 50 miles of Route 66.”

Rancho Cucamonga station may reopen by July November 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation.
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The historic Cucamonga Service Station along Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga, California, may reopen next year as a museum — perhaps by July, in time for its centennial, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

The article details the work the nonprofit Route 66 IECA group has done since taking over the property in January:

When the group moved in January, the gas station was in disrepair. The windows that surround the building were broken; there was a large hole in the roof and the walls, and the electrical wiring needed to be replaced. […]

More than 50 volunteers are helping to bring it back to its glory days.

New custom-made windows have been installed; the wiring and the walls have been replaced and primed. The exterior is entering the final stages and is ready for a three-color paint scheme. The lower half of the building will be blue, with a red stripe in the middle, and topped with yellow, akin to the past. […]

In September, Gonzalez was able to acquire key historical items. Two gas pumps from that era — one from 1914 and another from the 1920s — and a Richfield sign will eventually be placed on the station’s roof.

Inside, the service station display cases will line the walls and be filled with historic artifacts and car memorabilia.

To raise money, the group hosts a monthly breakfast buffet at Sweeten Hall the first Saturday of each month. The next one is Dec. 6.

Many photos of the gas station restoration work may be seen here.

The gas station opened about 1915 and closed during the 1970s. A billboard company used the property for storage until Route 66 IECA came with its offer in 2013 to buy the property. The Rancho Cucamonga City Council gave historic landmark status to Cucamonga Service Station in 2009.

A “haunted” gas station on Route 66 November 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Music.
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James Cleveland takes his camera all over the Southwest. This video of an abandoned gas station at the ghost town of Glenrio at the Texas and New Mexico border may not be actually infested with spirits, but its desolation and the sounds of the ever-present howling wind might give you the willies.

The sounds of the wind bring to mind the legend of La Llorona of New Mexico.

Cleveland also added an acoustic-guitar composition, “Gas House Blues,” to the video.

(Image of an abandoned gas station at Glenrio, Texas, by Charles Henry via Flickr)

Future of Shea’s Route 66 Museum likely won’t be known until next year October 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation.
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What’s in store for the closed Shea’s Route 66 Museum in Springfield, Illinois, likely won’t be known until sometime early next year, reported the State Journal-Register newspaper.

The museum, long operated by former gas-station operator and gas memorabilia collector Bill Shea, closed except for appointments in late 2012 after Shea became too frail and was moved into a nursing home. Shea died at age 91 about a year later.

Bill Shea Jr. told the newspaper he now has station in his name after five months in probate court. Now that’s settled, the younger Shea said he’ll discuss the future of the property.

Nearing age 66, O’Shea Jr. said he plans to discuss the future of his father’s museum with his three adult children before making a decision. He added that there have been off-and-on discussions with city and local tourism officials about the future of one of Springfield’s biggest Route 66 tourism draws.

He said he would like to see Shea’s Route 66 Museum preserved but that he would not be part of day-to-day operations.

“I worked heavy equipment for 40 years and would go there after work,” Shea said. “It’s time to let them (his children) have it, or if they don’t want it, maybe sell it.”

Springfield had long discussed having a Route 66 visitors center at the Bel-Aire Motel, but backed away from the potential deal because of lack of money. Perhaps there’s another opportunity at Shea’s.

Bill Shea Sr. started his career in the filling-station business shortly after leaving the military in 1946 — which included being part of a harrowing D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. He owned Marathon and Texaco stations in Springfield. Shea was old enough to remember when Route 66 in Springfield was paved with bricks.

Later, Shea converted a Marathon station on Route 66 into a museum of gas-station memorabilia. It included a 1920s gas station he moved from Middletown, Illinois. Shea greeted thousands of Route 66 travelers from dozens of countries at his museum.

Shea was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993. Dec. 30, 2011, was declared Bill Shea Day in Springfield in honor of his 90th birthday.

(Image of Shea’s by Sandor Weisz via Flickr)

Mobil pegasus sign taken out of mothballs in Carthage October 2, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation, Signs.
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A Mobil pegasus neon sign that had been in storage for more than 30 years has been removed from the mothballs, donated and reinstalled at a renovated Skelly Filling Station in Carthage, Missouri, reported the Carthage Press.

Jerry Perry, president and CEO of Grace Energy Corporation, gave a Mobil pegasus sign to Mark Jenny and local artist Larry Glaze to display at the renovated station. This same sign, which is four foot tall, six feet wide, weighing 6,000 pounds, marked the original Grace Mobil Station on Central Avenue in 1953. […]

The sign hung at the station on Central (across from today’s Hometown Bank) until about 1965. Perry bought the gas company in 1980, and had kept the sign in storage many years. […]

Glaze, who once worked at the Skelly station with Luther Gowin when gas was 23 cents a gallon, said the sign was cleaned easily. The neon tubes and motor for the once-rotating sign have been removed, but there are plans to install lights at the base of the pole to illuminate the historic icon.

The renovated station is at 1101 S. Grand Ave. (map here). The former Mobil station was in the 300 block of West Central Avenue, which is Route 66 in Carthage. An image of the original Mobil station is here.

According to the newspaper, the Skelly Filling Station now is a hot rod shop and meeting place owned by Mark Jenny. It was a cleaning business.

(Image of a Mobil pegasus at the Hackberry General Store in Arizona by mlhradio via Flickr)

Webb City wants to restore historic gas station September 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation.
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29c Webb City MO - Daugherty Street Gas Station

The city of Webb City, Missouri, is seeking to land a grant to restore a historic gas station in its downtown, reported the Joplin Globe.

The station, which once sold Sinclair and Tydol gas, was built in the 1920s and designed to look like a replica of a nearby post office and serve those vehicles.

The U.S. Filling Station, located at 223 W. Daugherty St. across from the post office, was deeded to the city about a year ago without restrictions by the Patten family trust, said Mayor John Biggs. It was the family’s hope that the city could have it restored. […]

Erin Turner, economic and community development coordinator for the city, said the initial estimate to restore the station is about $62,000. But since downtown Webb City was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the contractor has to be certified for historic preservation, which could push the cost higher.

The grant would pay for 60 percent of the project and the city would be responsible for the remaining 40 percent.

Turner said some longtime Webb City residents and business owners have already offered to help cover the city’s share if it receives the grant. A Patten family heir has pledged $5,000, Biggs said, and David Perry, president of Cardinal Scale Manufacturing, has pledged $25,000.

Two of the council members wanted the property sold instead, but the five other councilors voted down the motion. The property had been used rented for 10 months by a man who was restoring cars.

This Google Street View image from May 2013 shows the station looking considerably nicer:


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The station sits about a block north of a 1930s Broadway alignment of Route 66.

It would be the second historic gas station Webb City will have restored. The Webb City Route 66 Information Center is housed in a vintage gas station that was renovated and reopened in 2010.

(Hat tip to Ron Hart; 2009 image of the Daugherty Street gas station by John Hagstrom via Flickr)

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