The closed Quinn’s Shell gas station in Bloomington, Illinois, that was owned by an Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame member likely will face the wrecking ball in the coming weeks.
According to Pantagraph columnist Bill Flick, the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission will meet this week to review a demolition permit of Quinn’s Shell at Main and Chestnut streets in Bloomington.
Nearby Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which owns the eight-years-closed gas station, submitted the permit. Former owner and operator Elmo Quinn is a member of the church.
This is what Flick wrote about Quinn’s Shell:
Located at the corner of Main and Chestnut streets in Bloomington, while almost all other gas stations in America had long become “self-serve,” Elmo Quinn continued to run out to your car once you pulled in, to offer a “hullo!”, check your oil, wash your windshield, fill your tank, ask about your day.
At the service station originally opened by his dad and his uncle in 1941 — that’s when Main Street in Bloomington was part of U.S. Route 66, then the “Main Street of America” — Elmo simply continued to do what had been done all along. That is, before computerization and an “INSERT CARD HERE” message at the pump, to supply gas-attendant service at the service station.
Quinn retired eight years ago, closed the station, and its fuel tanks were removed in 2015.
He said he doesn’t feel bad about the forthcoming demolition but probably will when the razing begins.
“I don’t miss the 80-hour work weeks, but I do miss the people,” says Elmo, today at 81 and still as upbeat, lively and friendly as ever.
“My emotions won’t probably show up until the day they begin (the demolition) and put the first hole in it. But it has to be done, and at my age,” he adds with a laugh, “I’m not ready to go back in business. It was a sad day that last time I put a key in the door eight years ago, but it was time.”
Though closed, Quinn’s Shell remains listed as an attraction on the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau website.
Quinn’s Shell and the Quinn family were inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2012. Quinn himself was declared “Mayor of Main Street.”
(Excerpted image from Google Street View in 2011 of Quinn’s Shell in Bloomington, Illinois)