Few images evoke the spirit of Americana more vividly than Route 66, the famous highway that once stretched from Chicago to Santa Monica and for decades represented the freedom of the open road.
Today, many sites along what remains of the original highway are abandoned or in disrepair, including the Glancy Motor Hotel in Clinton, Oklahoma, a local landmark with a playful sign and lettering in bright colors that ooze mid-century charm. Sadly, the hotel will soon meet a tragic fate, with officials voting to approve a demolition bid at a city council meeting this week.
Rhys Martin, president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, a preservation group, said the decision to bulldoze the endearing piece of Route 66 history was made without fanfare and despite an appeal from the association to reconsider. During a phone call with fast company On Thursday, he said the process lacked transparency and policymakers showed no interest in exploring alternatives. He was unclear on the timetable for demolition, but said discussions with a company to carry out the work would already be underway.
“I expect that to mean it’s going to go fast,” he says.
According to Martin, the Clinton Economic Development Authority (CEDA) has jurisdiction over the project and the board has approved its recommendations. “Their decision is really what’s going on,” he said.
The Glancy Motel site, a favorite fascination on websites like Dead Motels USA and Abandoned Oklahoma, was condemned by the city in 2019, but supporters found new hope a few years later when a local oilman submitted plans to renovate the Glancy and a neighboring restaurant called Pop Hicks to their former glory. As detailed on a Route 66 news website, those plans ultimately did not materialize.
Roland Mower, director of CEDA, said he was surprised by the sudden vocal opposition to the demolition. He says CEDA fully supported the restoration efforts and went through two long rounds of RFPs, but they were ultimately unable to find a developer who could bring appropriate economic value to the site in the same way. than other restored historic motels along Route 66. have done. “You have to have someone with deep pockets to do that,” he said. fast company.
He said most of the rooms have already been demolished and only a handful remain. As for the famous sign, he insisted that it be saved and moved to another location, possibly the Route 66 Museum, which is also in Clinton. The fate of the property is a “concluded fact”, he added; it will become a multi-purpose facility that will be used by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Martin says what’s at stake isn’t just a single dead motel, but the pieces of history that, when strung together, make eight-state Route 66 a living landmark worth seeing. visit. “Rutgers University has published several studies showing the global recognition of Route 66 and how cities large and small are seeing increased tourism spending when the highway’s identity is adopted,” the association wrote in a statement. article on Facebook.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which placed the famous road on a list of endangered places in 2018, said it should be designated a federal National Historic Trail. But its preservation is a particularly resonant issue in Oklahoma, which is home to more than 400 miles of Route 66 and yet has few historic lodging options, Martin says, meaning travelers could be more inclined to just cross over and enter Texas. . (For what it’s worth, the road owes its existence to a famous Tulsan.)
Meanwhile, interest in the world’s most famous highway is growing as it approaches its centenary, officially marked for 2026. Its biggest champions, including nearly 500 people who have signed an online petition to save the Glancy Motel from the wrecking ball, just hope enough of Route 66 still exists by then.