Boots Court motel in Carthage changes owners, will reopen next spring

The historic Boots Court in Carthage, Missouri, quietly changed ownership a few months ago and will reopen in the spring after the rest of the Route 66 motel’s rooms are restored.

Debye Harvey, one of the motel’s co-owners with her sister for the past decade, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that two couples from the Carthage area closed on their purchase of the property in September. ‘

Harvey leased the business back from the new owners for a few months until the Boots closes for the winter. A group of Route 66 enthusiasts has booked the motel for this weekend as a sort of last hurrah before the new owners begin the restoration on the last handful of rooms.

Harvey said the new owners asked to keep their identities unrevealed for now. They plan to reopen the 13-room property in March.

“They plan to run it just like we owned it,” Harvey said, adding she will stay in Carthage as a consultant for the operators to ensure the Boots Court keeps its National Register of Historic Places designation.

Asked about what prompted her to sell, Harvey said: “I’m 72. I’ve done this for 10 years. I’d like to do something else, like travel.”

The Boots Court officially went on the market last spring. Harvey said another potential buyer planned to take ownership of the property early this year, but the financing fell through.

City of Carthage meeting minutes indicate the municipality made overtures this summer to buy the motel. That deal fell apart as well, Harvey said.

The motel came close to being demolished in the early 2000s when its owner, citing poor health, sold it to a local developer. Speculation ran rampant the motel would be razed for a Walgreens.

An outcry from the Route 66 Association of Missouri, Friends of the Mother Road and other preservationists scared off the developers.

The current owners bought the run-down property in 2011 and reopened it to overnight guests after months of renovations to restore it to its 1940s appearance, including “a radio in every room” and no televisions. They began a painstaking process to restore the motel, including removing a gabled roof to show the Boots Court’s original flat roof. The property reverted to its original Boots Court name.

The Boots Court was built in 1939 by Arthur Boots. Actor Clark Gable stayed there several times during cross-country trips from his native Ohio; he rested his head in Room No. 6. The Boots became the Boots Motel during the 1950s.

(Image of the Boots Court in Carthage, Missouri, by Jeff Kays via Flickr)

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