The Tulsa Route 66 Commission has given up trying to save the closed Brookshire Motel after a fire scorched it for the third time in 15 months. It instead will focus on trying to buy and preserve its neon sign.
A man’s body was found on the property after the latest fire last week.
According to Public Radio Tulsa:
“We are not going to try to save the buildings anymore. We’ve now had too many fires and loss of life. But we would very much like to pursue saving the neon sign,” said commission member Amanda DeCort.
DeCort wants to use leftover Route 66 preservation funds from the Vision 2025 sales tax package to buy the sign.
The commission, however, is working with the City of Tulsa to have the 1940s motel torn down.
“We’re moving forward on that as quickly as possible so that we can have an area that someone could look at and figure out how they could create a new something on Route 66 and really support the development and the momentum we’ve had going on Route 66,” said commission member Ken Busby.
The news is disappointing but not surprising. It already was a marginal property before the first fire occurred in February 2019, and the chances of it being saved dwindled with each successive blaze.
The property was declared a nuisance more than two years ago. Code violations went unaddressed, and the city has incurred more than $10,000 in abatement charges. The commission in 2018 tried to find a buyer to save the motel and implored the city to hold off on condemnation as long as possible.
According to Tulsa County property records, the motel’s owner is David Silver of Plano, Texas.
Rhys Martin, president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, talked to a descendant of the Brooks family, who owned the motel for many years starting in 1950. That led to this story.
(Image of the Brookshire Motel neon sign in Tulsa in 2005 by Tom Baddley via Flickr)