There were cheers inside the Boots Court Motel lobby when construction trucks pulled into the parking lot Tuesday morning.
Co-owners Deb Harvey and her sister, Priscilla Bledsaw, and manager Deborah “Debbie Dee” Real were all smiles Tuesday morning when Brothers Construction rolled in to start removing the gabled roof in order to re-install the flat roof. Harvey estimated the “Raze the Roof” project would take about three weeks until it was finished.
“It's going to look like that picture,” Harvey said, pointing to a picture of the original Boots Court Motel from 1939-1946.
Brothers Construction, out of Carthage, is owned and operated by Jose Lunarez and his son, Guadalupe.
“To make it look original is going to take some work,” Lunarez said. “I never thought I would be involved in the renovation, but I am excited.”
The construction workers scraped the still-snowy roof under a warm sun Tuesday morning.
“Bye bye roof,” Harvey said, watching from the ground with a camera in hand. “Nobody's going to miss you.”
So after the roof is completed, what then?
“Then we'll all stop for a breath,” Harvey said, with a smile. “We still have a few things left to do, like the campus awnings, windows need glazing and the rest of the neon needs to be finished around the building. But we're coming up on the tourist season and we don't want to be under construction when we have people here enjoying Route 66.”
The sisters have owned Boots since August 2011; wrote a grant for the roofing project in January 2012; the grant was awarded in June 2012 and they received a contract in October 2012. The roof project is partly funded by the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, National Trails Intermountain System, National Park Service.
In celebration of the completed roof and as a Boots Court Motel sign re-lighting party, an event will be held in late April or early May. By then, the motel will be able to enjoy its first full tourism season.
An anonymous donor made the sign renovation a reality. Under the care of the same company that installed the sign in the 1940s, Wilhite Signs' Pittsburg office is just waiting on warmer weather to paint the Boots Court sign. Harvey said the company plans to re-use as much as the neon as possible.