Architectural neon for Boots Court relighted

Boots Court front

The Boots Court in Carthage, Missouri, on Saturday night officially relighted the architectural neon of the Route 66 motel that had gone dark for about 15 years.

An estimated 200 people attended the event.

Here is a video from Jessica Davis of the countdown before the switch for the neon for Boots Court was flicked on:

The lighting ceremony began with a performance of “America the Beautiful” by the Carthage Middle School chorus, which also sang the national anthem.

Boots Court and sign

Speakers at the ceremony included:

  • Carthage mayor Mike Harris
  • Powers Museum curator Michelle Hansford
  • Tommy Pike of the Route 66 Association of Missouri
  • Boots Court owners Debye Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw

Also recognized at the ceremony were eight vintage car owners, including Ron “Tattoo Man” Jones, who paid for the restoration of the motel’s original Boots Court neon sign a few years ago.

The neon for the Boots Court motel was turned on at 8:08 p.m. Saturday.

Boots Court detail

The architectural neon for the Boots was paid in part with a Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program cost-share grant and aid from the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

The event included refreshments, music, informational booths, and commemorative T-shirts, hat pins, key chains, magnets and a special ballpoint pen that glowed neon green with the push of its button.

Greg Holmes, aka Ace Jackalope, put together this great video from the scene:

The Boots Court was built in 1939 by Arthur Boots at 107 S. Garrison Ave., then called the “Crossroads of America” because the motel was near U.S. 66 and U.S. 71. Actor Clark Gable stayed there several times; he rested his head at room No. 6.

The Boots became the Boots Motel during the 1950s. Because the current owners are restoring it to its 1940s appearance — including “a radio in every room” and no television sets — they reverted to its original Boots Court name.

The motel came close to being knocked down in the early 2000s when its owner, citing poor health, sold it to a local developer. Speculation ran rampant the motel would be razed for a Walgreens. But outcry from the Route 66 Association of Missouri, Friends of the Mother Road and other preservationists scared off developers.

The current owners bought the property in 2011 and reopened it to overnight guests in 2012 after months of renovations. They began a painstaking process to restore the motel, including removing a latter-day gabled roof to show the Boots Court’s original flat roof.

More coverage of the event may be read by KOAM-TV and the Joplin Globe.

(Images of neon for Boots Court and reporting courtesy of Jim Thole unless otherwise noted)

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