The owners of the Boots Motel are hoping to get the Route 66 icon on the National Register of Historic Places, but to do that, they must literally “raze the roof,” then replace it.
The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Association, a federal program to assist private and civic groups to preserve the historic places on “The Mother Road,” announced that the Boots Motel was awarded a $12,000 grant to help remove the pitched roof that was added to the motel in 1978.
Deborah Harvey, who owns the historic motel with her sister, Pricilla Bledsaw, said they now have to raise $12,000 to match the grant to receive the money.
“We need to start pretty quickly to raise the other $12,000,” Harvey said. “We have to be finished with the work by April 26 of next year.”
The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program announced 10 cost-share grants totaling more than $103,000 awarded to 10 Route 66 businesses, according to a news release published July 4 from the National Park Service. The historic Boots Motel, in Carthage, was built in 1939.
Bledsaw and Harvey bought the motel last year and reopened to overnight travelers in May after a decade-long hiatus.
According to the NPS, “The grant project will return the property to its historic appearance by removing a deteriorated pitched roof installed in the 1970s. Once the original roof is restored, the building will be secured from the elements and become eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places."
“Before any work is done on the roof, the State of Missouri has to complete the Section 106 Review and approve the project,” said Deborah Harvey, owner of the Boots Motel. “So, we cannot remove any of the roof until that is done - and that will take between 30 and 45 days.”
Since it’s opening in May, a “Raze the Roof” fundraising effort has been underway and contributions are being made by both Route 66 visitors and local residents to help restore the classic original art-deco “Moderne” style of the original motel and replace the flat roof underneath so further restoration work may continue. Since this is a "matching" grant, the Boots owners must raise the other $12,000 needed to complete the project.
Harvey said they’ve raised about $600 toward the work by selling postcards, but they need more help to meet the deadline in the grant.
“We’re hiring a local contractor to do the work and he’d like to get started as soon as possible,” Harvey said. “But we’re also leery of working on the roof during the peak of the tourist season so we’ll probably wait until after the Maple Leaf Festival, if the weather will cooperate.”
Harvey said they are accepting donations and people can call the motel at 417-310-2989 for more information.
Page 2 of 2 - Harvey said they are still only renting the five rooms in the building at the rear of the Boots Motel lot, but the motel has been holding its own financially since opening in May.
“I do the accounting for the motel and we’re at the national average for rooms rented,” Harvey said. “We’ve been in the black since opening as far as being able to pay the bills every month. The people in Carthage have been great, they’ve come to see the motel and we’ve even had people from relatively close, like Springfield and other places, come to stay.”
About the grant
The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program was established through an Act of Congress to assist private property owners; nonprofit organizations; local, state, tribal, and federal government agencies; and other stakeholders in the preservation of the most representative and significant historic Route 66 properties in the eight states through which the route passes. The program assists in identifying priorities and setting preservation standards as per the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Places. The program serves as a clearinghouse of preservation related information; provides technical assistance; and offers funding support through an annual, competitive cost-share grant program.