66 Historic Building Surveys
of you have been hearing about the “brick and mortar”
cost-share projects that the National Park Service’s Route
66 Corridor Preservation Program has been funding over the past
two years. In addition to these exciting projects, the Program
has also been able to fund historic building inventories/surveys
conducted by the State Historic Preservation Offices of Missouri,
Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico.
projects were awarded funds during the fiscal year 2001 cycle,
and they have just recently been completed. The surveys were
carried out by architectural historians in consultation with
the respective state Route 66 Associations and by researching
documents that provide information on the road’s history.
From this research, a historic context was prepared, which provides
a description of Route 66 and its significance to each respective
state. These contexts will be posted on our website within the
next couple of months. The surveys also involved getting out
on the road, where extant Route 66 properties were identified
and photographed. For each property, an inventory form was completed
that described architectural type, condition, and integrity.
Each state survey was as comprehensive as possible, given the
time and funding made available for the projects. The surveys
recorded properties directly associated with Route 66, such
as roadbeds, bridges, gasoline/service stations, restaurants/cafes,
motels/tourist courts, recreation travel stops, and roadside
you like numbers, the following figures will give you an idea
of the breadth and types of historic properties recorded:
Oklahoma, more than 350 miles of roadbed were investigated.
Approximately 47 properties have been determined eligible for
the National Register of Historic Places. Sixteen properties
are already listed on the National Register because of their
association with Route 66. The Oklahoma Route 66 Association,
through the State Historic Preservation Office, also conducted
a roadbed survey of all road alignments and integral structures
(e.g., bridges, culverts, guard rails). About 114 properties
were inventoried, 24 of which are recommended for nomination
to the National Register.
Texas, 178 miles of Route 66 were surveyed, and 657 properties
were identified, 345 of which are in Amarillo. Of the 657 properties
surveyed, 38% are vacant, the majority of them outside Amarillo.
Approximately 115 are gas stations, 57 are food-related, 85
are lodging-related, and 349 are general commercial buildings.
Of the 657 properties surveyed, 358 (55%) were constructed after
1949. It is being recommended that 24 of these properties and
one district (Glenrio) be determined eligible for the National
Mexico updated a survey conducted in the early 1990s. Approximately
532 properties were checked for condition and integrity. About
39 have been demolished since the 1991 survey, representing
7% of the previously surveyed properties. Thirty-five properties
are already on the National Register, including five road alignments.
Seventy-five additional resources were added to the inventory
during the re-survey. The preliminary recommendations are that
37 additional properties be determined eligible for nomination
to the National Register.
updated and expanded on a survey that had been conducted in
1992. A total of 348 properties have been recorded, of which
50 have been determined eligible for nomination to the National
Register (one of which is the Steak n’ Shake in Springfield!).
The survey project also produced National Register nominations
for the Big Chief Restaurant in Pond, the Red Cedar Inn in Pacific,
the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, the Rock Fountain Motor Court
in Springfield, and the 66 Drive-In in Carthage.
short but highly significant stretch of Route 66 in Kansas yielded
over 100 historic properties associated with the historic road.
National Register nominations were prepared for three of these
properties, including the Williams’ Store in Riverton,
the Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Company Station in
Baxter Springs, and the Route 66 Historic District east of Galena.
what does all this mean? The surveys provide base-line information
that will help us in determining what the most significant and
representative historic properties are along Route 66. Over
the next few years, we can use this information to guide us
in determining preservation priorities along the historic road,
as well as to pursue the preparation of National Register nominations
with owners of properties that have expressed an interest in
doing so. As discussed in an earlier column, listing on the
National Register of Historic Places honors the property by
recognizing its importance to the community, state, or nation.
It does not impose any responsibilities upon the private property
owner for maintenance or restoration. Benefits include the potential
to obtain Federal historic preservation funding, when funds
are available. National Register income-producing properties
can also apply for Federal investment tax credits for rehabilitation,
as well as state tax credits in select states. The survey work
can also help us with looking at trends in what is happening
with the historic properties out on the road: Why have 7% of
the historic Route 66 properties in New Mexico been destroyed
since the first survey was conducted 12 years ago? We can’t
save everything, nor do we want to. But are there ways to provide
incentives for property owners in urban areas to rehabilitate
many of the old gas stations, vintage motels, and classic cafes
before the bulldozers move in for redevelopment? Or, for vacant
rural historic properties that have been cut off from federal
highway traffic for 50 years, are there ways to revive them
to profit from heritage tourism, which pays the bills for many
businesses on Route 66?
you want to learn more about the Route 66 Corridor Preservation
Program, and link to information on such topics as the National
Register, projects awarded funds, or the Secretary of Interior’s
Standards for Preservation, please visit our web site at www.cr.nps.gov/rt66.