Carlinville beefs up facade grant program partly due to coming Route 66 centennial

The City of Carlinville, Illinois, is doubling the amount of money available in its facade grant program because it wants its historic downtown to look good during Route 66’s centennial in 2026.

The Journal-Courier reports the city usually sets aside $10,000 for the program, but it is doubling it for the 2022-2023 fiscal year by using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The Façade Grant Program is available to help commercial properties with improvements such as paint, lighting, window repair and other exterior work, subject to the city zoning regulations. Brian Zilm, economic development/zoning/grant administrator for the city, can guide businesses through the application packet.
“We at city hall hope that by expanding this program we can help alleviate some of the strain the pandemic has caused for our business owners while also improving the aesthetic charm of Carlinville’s historic business community,” Carlinville Mayor Sarah Oswald said. “It’s a win-win for all parties.”
Oswald said the city is confident it can showcase Carlinville in 2026 for the 100th anniversary of Route 66.
Carlinville Chamber of Commerce President Tim Rhodus said the additional funding provides “a fantastic opportunity” for local businesses to give their buildings a facelift.
“It may seem like a long way off right now, but the Chamber of Commerce and the city are already preparing for what will be a busy year in 2026 due to it being the 100th anniversary of Route 66,” Rhodus said.

The filing period for the program is from March 1 through April 1. Applications will be available at City Hall and on the city’s website and Facebook page starting Feb. 1.

Carlinville’s town square has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the mid-1970s. Most of the buildings in downtown date to the 1880s and have been well-preserved.

Carlinville was part of the Illinois Highway 4 alignment of Route 66 from 1926 to 1932. The highway then was realigned further east in the Springfield-to-Staunton stretch.

(Image of the north side of the Carlinville square by Randy von Liski via Flickr)

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