If there’s one thing Deborah Harvey has learned from years of experience restoring historic buildings belonging to other people, it’s to expect the unexpected.
“The door frames in room number 10 and room number 11 were set crooked, but in room 11 they didn’t trim the door to fit,” Harvey said as she gave a tour of some of the newly cleaned and renovated rooms in the old Route 66 icon.
“In room number 10 they cut the door to fit. We don’t know why they intentionally made the doors with non-plumbed doorways, they just built it and made it work.”
When Harvey and her sister, Pricilla Bledsaw, bought the Boots Motel on Garrison Street in Carthage, they knew they would have to be flexible with their plans.
Once they got into cleaning and assessing the rooms, they figured out the first eight rooms in the front building would need much more work than anticipated.
Therefore, plans to turn the five rooms in the back building into small office space were scrapped. Now those rooms will be the first to accept occupants and start generating revenue to keep the renovation going.
“The market for small office space in Carthage was not as great as we had anticipated, but the demand for rooms for Route 66 travelers to stay in was greater than we anticipated, so we changed our plans,” Harvey said. “We had so many calls from people asking if we were going to be open this summer, we had to get some rooms open. Besides, we decided we bought this to be a motel and we didn’t want it to be offices. That was just a plan to start using the building and generate revenue for the reconstruction.”
Harvey said now that the two buildings have been cleaned and they’ve had the chance to thoroughly go through them, they’ve decided the rooms in the front building will take much longer to make ready for occupancy.
Plus the sisters are looking to raise money to remove the gabled roof on the front building and restore the original look of the building.
Harvey said they already have three reservations for their soft opening, scheduled for May 8, the day the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking part in the National Travel Rally.
“That will be the soft opening for the back building rooms only,” Harvey said. “We’re hoping to get a certification of occupancy from the city public works department by then.”
Wendi Douglas, Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau director, said the city will hold its second annual Travel Rally at the Boots to celebrate the reopening of the Route 66 icon to the public.
“It’s a day when we welcome tourists and celebrate the start of the travel season,” Douglas said. “We plan to hold a travel rally each year at different places in the city to highlight the tourist spots in Carthage. This year it lined up perfectly with the reopening of the Boots Motel so we’ll have it there.”
Page 2 of 2 - Harvey said Bob Boots, the son of the motel’s builder, Arthur Boots, has asked to be the first reservation. She said she emailed two others who wanted to be among the first to stay at the motel and the agreed to come.
Harvey said the cost that first day will be $2.50, which was how much it cost to rent a room in 1939, when Arthur Boots built the motel.
After that, rooms will rent for $66 a night, tax included.
“We thought the price was fitting,” Harvey said.