Have you ever thought of a facelift?

This peeling Wagon Wheel symbolizes the need for this Route 66 icon facelift.

This peeling Wagon Wheel symbolizes the need for this Route 66 icon's facelift.

Beautification and preservation  in Cuba, Missouri...

All good things need a little renewal and a facelift from time to time.  The iconic Route 66 motor court The Wagon Wheel Motel is no exception.  Under its new ownership, the motel will get just that in 2009-10.

The Wagon Wheel Motel, 901 East Washington, a continuously operating Rt. 66 Motel since the 1930s, has a new owner.  Many of these historic motor courts have been torn down or abandoned, but this is one that will receive a ‘”makeover” by its new owner Connie Echols.

On September 15, ownership passed from the heirs of previous owners, Pauline and Harold Armstrong, to Connie Echols, owner of another Cuba Route 66 business The Wildflower, a florist and gift shop. Echols looks forward to her role as an owner of the historic motel and returning it to its former glory. Echols plans a renovation and modernization of the motel while maintaining its historic integrity.

“I plan to modernize the motel, but keep it as historically accurate as possible.  I want a clean, modern motel at a reasonable price that will continue to appeal to groups and Route 66 travelers,” stated Echols.

The motel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Route 66 icon. The much photographed neon sign with its hanging Wagon Wheel beckons travelers to the motel, which is still operating.

The Wagon Wheel sign will be able to beckon a new generation of travelers.

The Wagon Wheel sign will be able to beckon a new generation of travelers.

It still works.

It still works.

Currently, Echols is restoring the building in front of the motel’s cottages that served as the Wagon Wheel Café until the 1950s. She is taking it and the small rock gas station next to it back to a more original time period. Over the years, the two buildings have been joined and part of the structure covered with vinyl siding, which will be removed. The café building will be used as a gift shop, operated by Echols, and a motel office.

The old Wagon Wheel Cafe is being renovated for a gift shop and motel office.

The old Wagon Wheel Cafe is being renovated for a gift shop and motel office.

Echols plans an extensive updating of the motel guest rooms, including new wiring, new bathrooms, quality bedding, and other amenities to bring the rooms up to a higher standard.

The renovations will be completed in phases with the motel continuing to operate.  Reservations will be honored and remodeling inconveniences for travelers kept to a minimum.

The motel rooms are in separate Tudor “cottage style” stone buildings, and renovations will be on one section at a time to minimize disruption in the motel’s operations. Echols hopes to complete the renovations by spring and stage a Grand Opening, which will unveil the improvements to the historic property to those interested in this Route 66 landmark.

The Tudor-style cottage have a retro appeal for the Route 66 traveler.

The Tudor-style cottage have a retro appeal for the Route 66 traveler.

As rooms are upgraded and put into use, current rates of $17-$20 will be raised. News of renovation progress and the new rates will be released at a later date.

The motel can still be contacted at  573-885-3411.

Once more, a Cuba citizen has stepped up to preserve the historic past in Cuba, “Route 66 Mural City.”

Joe Sonderman, author of Route 66 in the Missouri Ozarks, gave permission to use this old Wagon Wheel postcard.

Joe Sonderman, author of Route 66 in the Missouri Ozarks, gave permission to use this old Wagon Wheel postcard.

For on preservation and beautification in Cuba, MO “Route 66 Mural City”  visit  The Viva Cuba website and blog at www.cubamomurals.com.

UPDATE: The Wagon Wheel now has a website www.wagonwheel66cuba.com with rates, photos, and updated information.

2 Responses to “Have you ever thought of a facelift?”

  1. Bryan says:

    I guess I stayed just a few months too early! Worst place I’ve ever stayed in the US! I was stuck in a back cinderblock building that was not even one of the original cabins–guess they were getting ready to renovate. It was scary!

  2. jane says:

    Yes, Brian the old place was definitely ready for a restoration. The new owner took over in the fall. She undergoing a big restoration. I think she mentioned making the building that you refer into a “bunk house” themed accommodation. We will see. She wanted to put stucco on the outside of the building, but I think the Historic Landmark regulations wouldn’t let her do that.

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