Preserving a piece of history

If you’ve ever been inside The Campbell Hotel, you know that we’re passionate about historic preservation. For some of us, that passion borders on obsession, and it leads us to do crazy things. This weekend, the craziness took one of us east on 66 to Carthage, Mo., where the historic Boots Motel is undergoing restoration.

Despite a long and inglorious history of acrophobia, your favorite Tulsa hotel blogger decided to spend Labor Day weekend up a bucket lift, helping a small volunteer crew repaint the metal surface of the neon sign in front of the Boots.

As usual, I’ll let the pictures tell the story:

This was how the sign looked when we started. The storm clouds in the background delayed the start of the project by a day.

Once the weather cleared, we were able to start scraping. The removal of a metal panel on one side of the sign revealed a bit of history: If you look closely, you’ll see the ghost of the word “COURT.” In 1939, “tourist courts” were all the rage; it wasn’t until sometime in the 1950s that the property changed its name to the more modern-sounding “MOTEL.”

A fresh coat of paint will do wonders to make an old sign easier to read and more eye-catching for passing travelers.

Here’s the finished project. (Well, mostly finished. We ran out of weekend before we ran out of sign, so the property manager is going to repaint the green parts later.)

At this point, you might be asking yourself: Why would someone who works for one lodging establishment on Route 66 want to drive 125 miles to spend a holiday weekend repainting the sign at another?

Part of it is pure love of the road. Part of it is an irrepressible gonzo streak. But part of it is a little more selfish: We’re all in this together. The more pieces of history we can preserve, the more reasons travelers will have for getting off the interstate and onto Route 66, where they’ll find hundreds of hands-on history lessons stretching all the way across eight states, three time zones, and more than 2,400 miles of highway. And that’s not just good for business at one little motel in one little town in Missouri. It’s good for every business in every town along 66, from Lou Mitchell’s Bakery in Chicago to the 66-to-Cali souvenir stand on the Santa Monica Pier. You never know where this road will lead a happy traveler — and that’s part of its magic.

If you’d like to experience some of that magic here in Tulsa, give us a call at (918) 744-5500 to book a room here at The Campbell Hotel and find out firsthand what makes this old road special.

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