Boots Court Motel

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Boots Court
Boots Motel (US 66).jpg
Boots Court Motel on US Route 66
General information
Location Carthage, Missouri
Address 107 S. Garrison Avenue
Coordinates 37°10′42″N 94°18′51″W / 37.1783°N 94.3143°W / 37.1783; -94.3143Coordinates: 37°10′42″N 94°18′51″W / 37.1783°N 94.3143°W / 37.1783; -94.3143
Opening 1939
Owner Deborah Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw
Design and construction
Developer Arthur and Ilda Boots
Other information
Number of rooms 13
Website
bootsmotel.com

The Boots Motel, a historic U.S. Route 66 motor hotel in Carthage, Missouri, opened in 1939 as the Boots Court at 107 S. Garrison Avenue.

It served travellers at the "crossroads of America" (US 66 and U.S. Route 71, the major roads of that era)[1] and was built in streamline moderne and art deco architectural style, its roofline and walls accented in black Carrara glass and green neon.[2] Arthur and Ilda Boots originally advertised "a radio in every room"[3] and each room included a covered carport.

A filling station briefly operated at the front of the property when it opened during the Great Depression but was soon replaced by the motel's office.[4] The motel was one of two to bear the Boots Court name; Arthur's brother Loyd A. Boots had established a 1930 Boots Cottage Court on US 54 in Eldon which became Randle's Court upon its sale to Helen Randle[5] in 1947.[6]

Expansion[edit]

In the mid-1940s, Arthur Boots opened a drive-in across the street, offering fountain service and "breakfast at any hour."[7] KDMO AM 1490 broadcast on-location interviews with many passing through from faraway places on US 66 and 71 as "Breakfast at the Crossroads of America".[8] While business was initially brisk, ultimately Interstate 44 diverted traffic seven miles south of the town and the restaurant closed in 1971. Its building now houses a credit union;[9] a replica of its curved front was incorporated into a Route 66 display at the Jasper County Courthouse.[10]

Ples Neely and his wife purchased the motel in 1942, expanding it to 13 rooms in 1946 by adding a five-room building at the back of the property. In keeping with traditions and superstitions of the times, the thirteenth room is numbered 14 to avoid the unlucky number 13.[11] Rachel Asplin purchased the motel in 1948 with her husband Ruben and operated it until she died at age 91 in 1991.[12] The first television stations in the Joplin-Springfield region signed on in 1953; after that, Boots Court advertised television, telephones and air conditioning among its amenities. In the motel's heyday, notable clients included Clark Gable,[13] Mickey Mantle[14] and Gene Autry.[15]

Decline[edit]

The property declined under a series of subsequent owners, at one point being rented monthly as single-room, low-income housing[16] after a 2003 attempt to flip the property for demolition and redevelopment as a Walgreens failed after public outrage.[14][17] The motel was unavailable for short-term rental to tourists on US 66 throughout the Vince Scott ownership period (October 2003 - June 2011) and deteriorated severely. By 2011, the motel buildings, though still standing, were among the Society for Commercial Archeology's ten most endangered roadside attractions in America[18] and among the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation's most endangered buildings in the state.[19]

It's in rough shape. They've torn it up. I've been renting it out as lower rent housing for five years, and these people have no money, so they've stolen everything they could steal. It would take some money to restore it. It's got a new roof; I put a new roof on the front, but someone would have to rewire it and replace a lot of things. It could be brought back, though, if a person had the interest."

— Vince Scott, Boots Motel owner in May 2011[20]

Restoration[edit]

Boots Court in 2014

After attempts to sell the motel and an adjacent house in 2011 for $190,000 found no takers,[21] the property was auctioned for $105,000 to Hometown Bank, a creditor,[22] as a result of foreclosure.[23] It was purchased in August 2011 by sisters Deborah Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw, who have begun to restore the buildings to their 1940s' appearance.[24]

We were holding our breath. Then we found out it was bought with the intention to restore it as a motel, which is its best use, and by people who have preservation experience. What is really special is their attention to detail. They’re taking such care; the preservation has been very authentic.

— Kaisa Barthuli, program manager, US National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program[19]

A 1970s' gabled roof installed during the Asplin era was restored to the original flat roof in April 2013,[25][26] a prerequisite for listing the streamline moderne property on the US National Register of Historic Places.[27][28] The $12,000 federal matching grant from the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program required the owners raise a matching $12,000 sum[29][30] — a task which was assisted by donations and a preservation award from the Route 66 Association of Missouri.[31] An additional matching grant, awarded in 2015, will fund restoration of the building's architectural neon.[32]

The Boots Motel is one of the very important properties along Route 66. Now that the roof has been removed, it will be eligible as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places which will truly acknowledge its role in our American history.

— Kaisa Barthuli, National Park Service[33]

The original red-and-white Boots Court neon signage was restored by the original signmaker in 2013[34] with a $2500 donation from "tattoo man" Ron Jones of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.[35] Jones is known on U.S. Route 66 for the more than eighty individual tattoos on his body identifying various individual Route 66 landmarks,[36] including the Boots Motel.

The sisters reopened the first portion (five rooms in the 1946 annex building) to Route 66 travellers in May 2012,[37] as part of a proposed five-year restoration effort[38] with help from Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce and plan to use the income from occupancy of this section of the motel, along with individual donations and souvenir sales from the old motel's office, to restore the eight original rooms in the main building.[39][40]

The newly restored rooms include 1940s' touches such as real keys, chrome light fixtures, chenille bedspreads, monogrammed towels, built-in dressers and a radio tuned to a station playing 1940s' hits.[41] Bob Boots, the 82-year-old (in 2011) son of the original owners, travelled from Tulsa to Carthage in 2012 as the first guest of the restored motel at the 1940s' price of $2.50/night,[42] which he reportedly paid in 1939 currency.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michèle Newton Hansford (2000-08-09). Carthage, Missouri. Arcadia Publishing. p. 101. ISBN 9780738507651. 
  2. ^ Quinta Scott (2001-12-01). Along Route 66. p. 100. ISBN 9780806133836. Retrieved 2012-04-22.  This motel is the cover photo.
  3. ^ Rebekah Clark (2011-07-14). "Developers Hope to Revive History at the Boots Motel, a Route 66 Landmark in Carthage". KSMU public radio. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  4. ^ Hacker, John (September 27, 2011). "Mother Road comeback: Boots relives childhood memories in Carthage". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  5. ^ H. Dwight Weaver (2002-05-15). Lake of the Ozarks: Vintage Vacation Paradise. p. 11. ISBN 9780738519654. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  6. ^ Dwight Weaver (November 2005). "Glimpses of the Lake's Past" (PDF). Lake of the Ozarks Business Journal. 
  7. ^ "Historic postcards of Boots Court and Boots Drive-In".  printed after introduction of television to the region in the 1950s.
  8. ^ "Route 66 Oral History Project (M067): Robert Boots interview at Powers Museum, Carthage". Missouri State University, Special Collections and Archives. April 26, 2006. 
  9. ^ Hacker, John (September 27, 2011). "Mother Road comeback: Boots builder's son returns to old motel". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  10. ^ Susan Redden (February 18, 2009). "Boots Drive-In featured in new Route 66 exhibit". The Joplin Globe. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  11. ^ William Kaszynski (May 28, 2003). Route 66: Images of America's Main Street. ISBN 9780786415533. 
  12. ^ Russell A. Olsen (2008-09-24). The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found. p. 56. ISBN 9780760334928. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  13. ^ Joe Sonderman (2009-05-20). Route 66 In The Missouri Ozarks. p. 115. ISBN 9780738560304. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  14. ^ a b John Hacker (June 2007). "Future of Local Icon Uncertain". Carthage Press (archived at route66university.com). 
  15. ^ Steve Grant; Tim Leimkuhler (May 8, 2012). "Route 66 landmark hotel reopens in Carthage with nostalgic authenticity". KYTV. 
  16. ^ Morgan Schutters (May 16, 2011). "Local Interest in Restoring Historic Boots Motel For Sale". KODE-TV. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  17. ^ Hacker, John (February 9, 2009). "50 Neighbors: Vince Scott takes over restaurant in tough economic times". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  18. ^ Zach Fletcher (July 28, 2011). "Historic Route 66 motel in Carthage is now for sale". KOAM-TV. 
  19. ^ a b Redden, Susan (2013-07-29). "Boots Court receives Route 66 honour". Joplin Globe. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  20. ^ John Hacker/The Carthage Press (May 6, 2011). "Group adds Boots Motel on Route 66 to endangered roadside list". Columbia Missourian. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  21. ^ "MLS listing for 107-117 S Garrison Ave Carthage, Missouri". 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-10. 
  22. ^ Hacker, John (June 23, 2011). "Bank takes Boots Motel at auction". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  23. ^ Hacker, John (2011-09-09). "Boots Motel owners to host open house on Friday, Saturday, Sunday". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  24. ^ Redden, Susan (2011-08-15). "Buyers to restore historic Boots Motel". The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  25. ^ Ron Warnick (2013-04-09). "Boots Motel returns to its original roof". Route 66 News. Retrieved 2013-04-09. 
  26. ^ Haines, Rebecca (2013-03-27). "Roof renovation begins at Boots Court Motel". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  27. ^ Jo Ellis (September 4, 2011). "Sisters plan open house at Boots Motel". Joplin Globe. 
  28. ^ http://www.carthagepress.com/article/20130730/NEWS/130739964
  29. ^ "Route 66 corridor preservation cost-share grants" (PDF). US National Park Service. July 2012. 
  30. ^ John Hacker (2012-08-04). "Boots Motel receives federal grant". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  31. ^ "Route 66 motel is being renovated in Carthage, Mo.". Kansas City Star. Associated Press. 2013-03-29. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  32. ^ http://ncptt.nps.gov/rt66/2015-cost-share-grants-announced/
  33. ^ "Boots Motel Roof Replacement". KODE-TV. 2013-07-29. 
  34. ^ Redden, Susan (2013-03-11). "Restoration continues on iconic Boots Motel in Carthage". Joplin Globe. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  35. ^ Ron Warnick (2013-07-20). "Boots Motel sign's benefactor revealed". Route 66 News. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  36. ^ "Man Covered In Route 66 Tattoos". Flashnews. 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  37. ^ "Boots Motel: Route 66 icon is again open for business". KOAM-TV/7, Pittsburg, Kansas. May 8, 2012. 
  38. ^ Uhlenbrock, Tom (2012-12-01). "Updated Missouri hotels hope to keep Route 66 magic alive". St Louis Today. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  39. ^ Hacker, John (2012-02-14). "Sisters push forward with Boots restoration". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  40. ^ "Boots Motel restoration plan". Boots Court property website. 2012. 
  41. ^ Kevin Murphy (June 17, 2012). "Route 66 still holds allure for travellers, industry". Reuters. 
  42. ^ Hacker, John (2011-09-21). "Mother Road comeback". Carthage Press. Retrieved 2012-04-21.