Route History shop in Springfield awarded an $80,000 grant

Route History, a former gas station in Springfield, Illinois, that tells the African American experience of Route 66 and acts a souvenir shop, recently earned an $80,047 grant from the state.

The grant from the Illinois Minority-Owned Business Capital and Infrastructure Program will the owners help buy the property, improve its grounds, add two staff members and support educational activities, according to the Springfield State Journal-Register.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, announced the grant this week.

The former Texaco station at 737 E. Cook St. sits near the Fifth, Sixth and Ninth street alignments of Route 66.

The newspaper reported:

The museum bills itself as highlighting stories of tragedy, resilience and triumph around the Black experience on Route 66, Jim Crow laws, the Underground Railroad and the Great Migration. It also offers a look at the city’s Black history, including Eva Carroll Monroe’s role in founding the Lincoln Colored Home and the role of the Ambidexter Institute, an early 20th-century industrial school patterned after Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute.
Grant funds also will be used to pay for an ongoing exhibit commemorating four Black businessmen and community leaders who assisted with the Underground Railroad, such as Jameson Jenkins, a Springfield neighbor of Abraham Lincoln’s who aided runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad route from Springfield to Bloomington.

Route History opened early last year. It’s remained temporarily closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More about the store:

Part of the store’s proceeds when it opened were earmarked to help renovate the Lincoln Colored Home at 427 S. 12th St. in Springfield so it can serve as a national landmark and tourism site. The 1904 building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was one of the first orphanages for African-American children in the United States.

The walls of the store also contain displays about the Negro Motorist Green BookJim Crow laws, the Great Migration, black-owned businesses in Springfield, and the Springfield race riot of 1908.

(Image from Route History’s February 2019 opening via Facebook)

One thought on “Route History shop in Springfield awarded an $80,000 grant

  1. I had not read about this place before. I’ll have to check it out the next time I’m in Springfield.

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