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The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program -
Up and Running

(Released: September, 2002)

In April of 2001 I was fortunate to have been hired to manage the Route 66 Preservation Program which is administered through the Long Distance Trails Group Office, National Park Service, Santa Fe, New Mexico. The program was created by the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act of 1999. Many of you were probably involved in making this Act a reality over the past decade. In my short time on the job, I have learned to appreciate the challenges and complexities of assisting in the preservation of the great resources that make up Route 66, as well as the hard work and tremendous in-roads that many of you have already made.

Overview of the Act

The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act was passed by Congress in 1999. The Act designated the National Park Service to help to preserve and restore the most significant or representative resources along the route including the engineered highway itself, adjacent structures or cultural resources of businesses, sites of interest, and other contributing resources that existed during the route's period of outstanding historic significance (1926-70). The National Park Service is directed to facilitate the development of guidelines and a program of technical assistance, cost-share programs and grants that will set priorities for the preservation of the Route 66 corridor. The Route 66 Preservation Program of the National Park Service not only provides financial assistance opportunities for eligible preservation projects along Route 66, but also serves as the clearinghouse for preservation information and technical assistance on ways to best preserve, protect and perpetuate the road's historic resources. These resources include the familiar "gas, eat, sleep" related businesses, and also ruins of those buildings, archaeological sites, cultural landscapes and the all important road segments themselves. The National Park Service program will legislatively terminate at the end of Fiscal Year 2009 at which time the Act anticipates that the National Park Service will have successfully developed the program so that the states or others will have the ability to establish and support a non-federal entity(ies) to continue the program's purpose.

What are we doing now?

We have some exciting projects earmarked to be funded through the $500,000 that was appropriated last year by Congress. The funds are designed to support the identification and preservation of buildings, historic road segments, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes which have been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and/or which are significant components of the Route 66 corridor, still retaining their architectural and/or archaeological integrity. The funded projects, ranging from historic building inventories to "brick and mortar" work, were selected from responses to Requests from Proposals that were issued from this office in June. All eight states through which Route 66 passes will be receiving a share of the appropriation. The historic building survey work and National Register nomination projects will enable many historic buildings along the route to be eligible for federal and state tax credits for rehabilitation projects as well as provide some protection from future development projects which could threaten historic Route 66 resources. The projects earmarked for funding this year through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act include:

Illinois: Through a cost-share program, the exterior restoration will be completed and the interior restoration will begin on the 1932 Odell Standard Oil Gas Station. Many of you are already aware that the Odell Gas Station received this year's prestigious Cyrus Avery Award for the most outstanding Route 66 preservation project. The Route 66 Preservation Program looks forward to furthering its preservation.

Missouri: A survey of historic properties associated with Route 66 will be completed and National Register nominations for endangered properties will be prepared which will make those properties eligible for tax credits and other preservation incentives.

Kansas: A comprehensive survey of the Route 66 corridor for historic resources (including buildings, ruins, archaeological sites, bridges, road alignments) will be conducted and National Register nominations prepared for properties identified as eligible historic resources.

Oklahoma: Three projects will be funded: a) documentation of extant Route 66 roadbeds and establishment of priorities and methodologies for the management and treatment of those historic roadbed segments in consultation with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, b) update and expansion of the survey work for Route 66 historic resources that was done in 1984, and c) funding of the restoration/rehabilitation grant program through the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office. This will enable owners of National Register properties along Route 66 the opportunity to apply for "brick and mortar" funds through a cost-share program.

Texas: An assessment/survey of all historic properties associated with Route 66 will be produced including buildings, engineered structures, properties visible from the highway in rural areas, and the commercial districts of communities through which Route 66 passes.

New Mexico: An update of earlier survey work will be completed to include the inventory of cultural resources along the pre-1937 (Santa Fe) route, properties located on Native American lands, and roadside attractions such as historic signs, scenic overlooks, "tourist traps", "snakepits", and selected commercial archaeological sites. National Register nominations will also be completed, including one for "La Bajada", the 1920's stretch south of Santa Fe. A Route 66 Neon Sign Restoration Project will be implemented in which at least five historic signs in different towns along the historic road will be restored and made operable through a cost-share program with private entities. In addition, the New Mexico Preservation Heritage Alliance will review and study sign ordinances and other policies along Route 66 in New Mexico that affect their maintenance and preservation. A model sign ordinance will be one of the products from this project, which will be shared with other organizations along Route 66 throughout the eight states.

Arizona: A condition assessment will be prepared and priority preservation work will be implemented for the historic Rialto Theatre in downtown Winslow (just down the street from the guy standing on the corner). The Rialto was built in 1920 along Route 66 for performing arts and vaudeville acts and then converted to a cinema. It has been closed since 1966. The work will include roof repair, façade and entry repair. This is a cost-share award with the City of Winslow.

California: A Historic Structures Report will be produced and priority stabilization/rehabilitation work implemented at the Aztec Hotel in Monrovia. The Aztec was built in 1924-25 in a Mayan Revival style to encourage travelers along Route 66 to stay in Monrovia. It was constructed as a lavish hotel located in the Los Angeles foothills and has recently been acquired by a property owner that has already made tremendous inroads towards its resurrection as a destination spot along Route 66. This is a cost-share project with the City of Monrovia.

What do we intend to do?

This coming year I look forward to meeting with many of you to discuss ways to equitably share the resources available to us and to get your input as to what the best means are to preserve, protect and keep using the most significant and representative historic properties that comprise the Route 66 corridor. These discussions will also include ways to best protect those "wide open spaces" that make up the great cultural landscapes associated with Route 66. I also will investigate ways to leverage our federal dollars with various fundraising initiatives. If you have any questions or comments about the Route 66 Preservation Program, I would love to hear them. My phone number is 505-988-6742, Email: michael_taylor@nps.gov and mailing address: Michael Taylor, Route 66 Program Manager, Long Distance Trails Group Office - Santa Fe, National Park Service, P.O. Box 728, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87504-0728.

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