Home / Blog / Edwardsville officials unveil Route 66 Interpretive Center

Edwardsville officials unveil Route 66 Interpretive Center

Sep 28, 2023Sep 28, 2023

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Assistant City Engineer David Sirko is responsible for securing the replica Texaco gas pumps at the West End Service Station, 620 West St. in Edwardsville.

In the former main repair bay at what is now Edwardsville's Route 66 Interpretive Center, 620 West St., there is a wall map depicting the entire route between Chicago and Los Angeles.

A gift shop with Route 66 merchandise is available at the center, too.

One of the many new logos for the Route 66 Interpretive Center or West End Service Station was designed by local graphic artist Sherrie Hickman with Creative Options.

Officials gathered to cut the ribbon Friday at the new West End Service Center and interpretive museum.

Factoids about the service center's existence adorn one of the interior walls.

More Route 66 tidbits are offered in the garage bays.

More information on the Mother Road and the station is available at various points inside.

This information graphic details the site's history from 1927 to 2022.

Edwardsville Fire Department Chief James Whiteford made the wooden shelf holding these items up near the ceiling.

EDWARDSVILLE — If not for the efforts of many people, Friday's ribbon-cutting at the new Route 66 Interpretive Center may not have happened.

Elected officials, city staff members, select guests and other officials turned out in force for the building's dedication and grand opening. Located at 620 West St., across from Edwardsville school District 7's Hadley House, the tourist spot and museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday - Sunday each week. Parking is available at the adjacent dental office.

Saturday, June 10, at City Park, 101 S. Buchanan St., Edwardsville

Sunday, June 11, at Edwardsville Public Library, 112 S. Kansas St., Edwardsville.

After a rendetion of the song, "Route 66" by Craig Becker with Butch Moore playing guitar, Mayor Art Risavy, alderman SJ Morrison and Great Rivers and Routes President and CEO Cory Jobe delivered remarks.

Morrison said the building appeared on a demolition list with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) on multiple occasions and each time, local leaders clawed it back.

Last year, Jobe presented city officials with a $460,000 grant from the state to help rehabilitate the site into what opened Friday.

"It's been a fun project," Morrison said before the grand opening.

Opened in 1927, Springer's Madison Oil Company was established on the site by Henry Springer. Nine years later, Robert Smith and Ralph Ladd changed the name to the West End Service Station with Mobil gas and oil products, a hydraulic vehicle lift and more.

During a temporary shutdown in 1939 as Route 66 through town was repaved, Smith and Ladd chose to demolish the original building and had the current one constructed, opening Aug. 5, 1939, under Ralph and Earl Ladd's ownership.

In 1948, two local mechanics, Henry "Hank" Dohle and Robert "Doc" Heidinger partnered to buy the gas station. It catered to customers ranging from laborers to lawyers and everyone in-between, Morrison said.

Ralph Ellsworth bought the site in 1961.

In 1964, after Interstate 55 was built, bypassing Edwardsville, Dr. Robert Marks bought the site and turned it into a dentist's office. Dr. Dale Claussen followed suit in 1982 until 2018, then it was the home of Dr. Beau Moody's dentist office until 2020.

IDOT bought the site in 2021 and the city bought the building from IDOT last year at auction.

Risavy used a lot of related puns as he thanked a variety of project stakeholders, from being "pumped" about the renovated site to referring to Jobe as the plan's "fuel" with Morrison as the project's "spark plug."

He said the building required more than a tune-up; it got a full-service overhaul.

Jobe referred to this as "saving a piece of history for future generations to enjoy."

The location offers a small gift shop, a restroom, two replica Texaco gas pumps outside and roll-up doors along with factoids about the site and others along Route 66. There used to be more than a dozen of these types of stations in Edwardsville; this is the sole remaining Route 66 station within 60 miles.

This interpretive center, the Route 66 mural at Vandalia and Main streets, and the Route 66 shield across from Lincoln Middle School are all part of celebrating the Mother Road's centennial, which is in 2026.