Friday, October 17, 2008

Portland, Oregon to Tulsa, Oklahoma - Day 4

Welcome to day four of the Vintage Roadside Tulsa road trip. It's been great having you all along for the ride!

We discovered today that the wildlife along Route 66 can be tricky, but we've picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and gathered another bonanza of roadside stops and preservation stories.

We began our day in Williams, one of the accredited member cities in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street program.

What is Main Street you ask? You're going to love this one!

Developed in the 1970s by the National Trust, the Main Street program is an innovative approach to revitalizing older, traditional business districts through economic development in the context of historic preservation.

Main Street emphasizes how an architecturally interesting, pedestrian friendly, locally owned business district supported by the community is sound economics. Makes sense to us!

When we were researching the Main Street program and its effect along Route 66, we contacted Donna Eastman, one of the driving forces behind the vitality of downtown Williams. Donna is the CEO of the Williams Chamber of Commerce, the director of the Main Street program, and a member of the board of the Arizona Route 66 Association.

Acting as a an education resource for historic preservation, the Williams Main Street program has emphasized the value of retaining and restoring downtown buildings and the economic advantages of seeing the historic downtown business district as a destination for travelers. We were thrilled to hear that due to the momentum for historic preservation that has built around Main Street, the city of Williams has now hired a full time employee just to focus on and manage the program. Well done, Williams!

Two of the many preservation stories in Williams are the Grand Canyon Hotel and the En Pinado Hotel.

Built in 1891, the restoration of the Grand Canyon has made a major impact on the look of downtown Williams.

The En Pinado hotel is another beautiful old hotel currently undergoing restoration. New owners Dennis and Pam Dreher plan to restore the circa. 1905 hotel for use as commercial property (downstairs) and apartments upstairs.

On the way out of Flagstaff sits the Twin Arrows. A legend along Route 66, this once popular roadside stop was built in the 1940s on land leased from the Arizona State Land Department. The Twin Arrows once offered travelers gas, gifts, and food from a classic Valentine diner. Now, after years of deterioration, vandalism, and despair about the state of the iconic Twin Arrows sign, we have some fantastic news!

Just before our trip, we spoke with Sharlene Fouser, Coordinator for the Historic Route 66 Scenic Byways Program.

Sharlene let us know that the Hopi Tribe, owner of the Twin Arrows buildings and sign, has recently moved ahead with plans to seek funds from the National Trust for a preservation assessment and restoration plan for the Twin Arrows. The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and the National Park Service's Route 66 Corridor Program are assisting with this effort.

If you'd like to learn more about the Historic Route 66 Scenic Byways Program you can click here. We're big fans of this program which was established in 1992 and to date has awarded over $3,000,000 to Route 66 Scenic Byway projects.

After Flagstaff, we stopped in Winslow to visit the La Posada Hotel, one of the great preservation stories along Route 66. Opened in 1930, closed in 1957, purchased in 1997 and subsequently restored by Allen Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion, La Posada is one of 84 Harvey Houses built by Fred Harvey to serve travelers on the Santa Fe Railway.

La Posada is also one of 21 projects designed for Fred Havey by Mary Colter from 1901 - 1948 and reported to be the one she considered her masterpiece.

Check out this great Preservation magazine article if you'd like to learn more about Harvey Houses.

We're happy to share some good news about the Highway Diner, located across the street from La Posada. The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program has just awarded the owner of the Highway Diner a grant for development of a preservation plan and emergency stabilization. We're hoping to swing by for a hamburger the next time we're in town!

Fun fact: the Highway is a Valentine Diner Model Nifty-Nine, a nine stool diner model made in the early 1950s.

We've just started digging into the story of another historic building in Winslow (a faint sign across the front reads " Babbitt Brother Mercantile"), but thought we'd go ahead and share the photo.

Holbrook is home to a couple of the most well-known mom and pop businesses along Route 66. The Wigwam Motel and Joe & Aggie's Cafe.

The Wigwam Motel, one of 7 built between 1933 and 1950, is still run by the family who built the motel in 1950.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wigwam has received grants from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program which allowed them to restore their neon sign, repair concrete walls, and rehab plumbing.

The Wigwam is a great example of the imaginative architecture that flourished during the golden age of roadside travel. The Wigwam still captures the imagination and is an irreplaceable piece of Route 66 history.

Although tempted by a number of restaurants along the way, we had waited to eat until we reached Holbrook knowing we had to have a meal at Joe & Aggie's Cafe.

We don't often take pictures of our dinner, but the burritos we ordered were too good not to share. And yes, they were as delicious as they look! If you're lucky, you'll stop by on a day when Christopher Olthouse is serving. He has a definite knack for making newcomers feel at home.

Joe & Aggie's opened for business in 1943 and is still owned and operated by the original family. At the end of our meal, we were lucky enough to meet second generation owners Alice & Stanley Gallegos along with their son, Steven. Some of the fun stories they shared highlighted a Joe & Aggie's credit in the Pixar movie "Cars", a booth used as a photo shoot for Glamour magazine, and a group from Ireland who fly over every two years for a motorcycle tour of Route 66 and a guaranteed stop at Joe & Aggie's. We even picked up some great bowling tips from Alice (so watch out Austin and Marci, we're ready for a Rollerdog showdown!)

On a preservation note, Joe & Aggie's Cafe received a grant in 2006 from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program for roof repairs.

See you tomorrow in New Mexico & Texas!


Velveteria said...

I am loving this blog, we have a velvet painting done by a young artist of the Blue Swallow sign at night. The pics are so good, I am totally hungering for a real southwest burrito, why did I have to see that pic,why? The neon is so beautiful. Thanks for the chronicle, all must be saved!

Vintage Roadside said...

velveteria - Thank you for the kind words! Wow, the Blue Swallow painting must be amazing. We'd love to see it sometime. I must admit - the burrito was even better than it looked! You're so right about saving these neon works of art. Once they're gone there's no going back.