The troubled Brookshire Motel in Tulsa was torn down Monday after four fires decimated what was left of the Route 66 property.
A body was found in one of the fires in May, prompting local officials to abandon plans to save the motel.
Route 66 advocates in the city were saddened by the teardown but felt it was inevitable, according to the Tulsa World:
“Frankly, after a certain point, you have to cut your losses,” said Ken Busby, chairman of the Tulsa Route 66 Commission, which had once envisioned turning the motel into a sort of “eastern gateway” to the city.
“It was beyond saving,” Busby said. […]
“This breaks my heart,” said Rhys Martin, president of Oklahoma Route 66 Association and a member of the Tulsa Route 66 Commission.
“The Brookshire Motel was a prime example of an authentic piece of Route 66 history that could have been transformed into a must-see location for people taking the road trip from Chicago to Santa Monica. Every time we lose a place like this, we also lose part of what makes Route 66 so special.”
Amanda DeCort, executive director for the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, also told the newspaper it was “a huge missed opportunity.”
The Brookshire, located 11017 E. 11th St. (aka Route 66), didn’t fall because of a lack of effort.
Preservationists looked at varying projects that would have saved the property and tried to find a buyer. The Tulsa Route 66 Commission intervened two years ago when the city condemned the motel for a slew of code violations; it was given more time to try to find some sort of plan.
They still hope to buy the historic neon sign, which was the only thing left standing after the demolition.
According to Tulsa County property records, the motel’s owner is David Silver of Plano, Texas.
Martin talked to a descendant of the Brooks family, who owned the motel for many years starting in 1950. That led to this story.
(Screen-capture image of the Brookshire Motel in Tulsa being torn down from Tulsa World video; image of the Brookshire Motel neon sign in Tulsa in 2005 by Tom Baddley via Flickr)