Historic Route 66 motel to reopen in Carthage

Monday, May 7, 2012 | 11:48 a.m. CDT

CARTHAGE — Preservationists in southwest Missouri have been hailing plans to reopen part of an iconic Route 66 motel.

Deborah Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw, new owners of the Boots Motel in Carthage, are scheduled to reopen five rooms at the motel Tuesday to coincide with a rally marking the start of summer tourism, according to The Joplin Globe. They bought the motel last year after the bank foreclosed on it.

Ron Hart, of Joplin, founder of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce, was among those who worried the Boots, which has been featured in Route 66 calendars, would be demolished after the foreclosure.

"They took a giant leap of faith buying it, as run-down as it was," Ron Hart said. "Because people will be coming here to spend the night, they'll be staying longer, seeing more of the community and spending more money."

Wendi Douglas, executive director of the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau, predicted the reopened motel would have a "significant impact" on the area.

"Route 66 is an international attraction, and people who may have never heard of the courthouse or the Civil War Museum might see them when they come here on Route 66," Douglas said. "And the Boots has its own history as well."

Renovations are still under way on the part of the motel built in 1947, and work will shift later to the original section built in 1939. But Harvey said they wanted to open early for the travel rally. The five rooms are already booked for Tuesday, with a first-night room rate of $2.50, the same as when the motel opened. After that, rates go to $66 for one-bed units and $71 for two beds.

The rooms have white walls, hardwood floors and chenille bed spreads. Each room also has a radio but no television, much like they did when the motel opened.

"We want people to be able to be immersed in the 1940s," Harvey said. "We'll also have board games in the office they can borrow."

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