The neon sign for the apparently closed Art’s Motel in Farmersville, Illinois, recently was dismantled but preserved by a sign company and a historic-themed bar, both in nearby Springfield.
For now, Art’s Motel & Restaurant faces an uncertain future. The listed phone numbers for the motel were disconnected. A Yelp listing for the motel states it is closed, and the last online review at TripAdvisor.com for it came in August 2017.
The weathered side of the Art’s Motel sign that formerly faced the north eventually will be displayed at Ace Sign Co. (known for restoring The Tropics sign in Lincoln, Illinois) in Springfield, Illinois. Ace houses a museum of vintage neon signs at its business that’s free to the public.
“We will be adding neon to it but keeping its ‘aged’ patina,” stated a spokesman for the company.
The formerly south-facing part of the sign that was restored by Illinois Route 66 Association volunteers in 2007 is on display on a wall at the beer garden at Route 66 Motorheads Bar & Grill in Springfield, which contains a plethora of other Route 66 memorabilia from the region. Route 66 Motorheads plans to eventually restore the sign’s neon lighting.
John Weiss, who oversaw the association’s restoration of the sign years ago, was sanguine about the sign’s removal.
“I would rather see it saved and displayed rather than see it deteriorating as it was,” he stated in an email.
Art McAnarney founded Art’s Motel and Restaurant in 1937 by leasing Hendricks Brothers Cafe and gas station and adding six cabins. Art’s went through several changes over the decades, including a fire in 1952, until McAnarney died in 1957. His sons, Elmer and Joe, kept the motel going for years after that.
Art’s Motel and Restaurant was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1995.
New owner Kris Jain briefly reopened Art’s Motel in early 2017 after a six-year hiatus, but the restaurant remained closed.
(Image by Joe Crain of one-half of the Art’s Motel sign at Ace Sign Co. in Springfield, Illinois, via Facebook: image of the restored side of the Art’s Motel sign in 2007 by Digital Route 66)