By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. — The curved front of the former Boots Drive-In will be repeated in a Route 66 display at the Jasper County Courthouse.
A replica of the building front is just starting to take shape at a workshop in Carthage. When finished, it will occupy space in the main floor of the historic courthouse and serve as a display case for artifacts from the Mother Road, according to Chris Wiseman, curator of collections at the Joplin Museum Complex.
Wiseman and Brad Belk, museum director, developed the project under a contract with the county. Wiseman is the designer and builder of the display, to be financed by a federal transportation grant.
The design selected was one of three considered by the County Commission, with help from the courthouse historic preservation committee.
“That’s the design that everyone liked, because the history of the Boots Drive-In goes along with the history of Route 66,” said Jim Honey, Eastern District county commissioner.
The former drive-in now houses a savings and loan, and is across the street from the historic Boots Motel, a famous Route 66 landmark.
The display case will be 18 feet wide and 13 feet tall. The exhibit will include full-size artifacts, including a gasoline pump and an air pump, Wiseman said, and part of a vintage car will form a couch to face a flat-screen television that will show slides of Route 66 history.
The main colors of the display will be red and white, based on colors of the drive-in during its heyday. The display will accommodate Route 66 artifacts to be purchased for the project and perhaps some donated by local residents.
“We’ve already had people contact us,” Wiseman said.
Wiseman said the curved front of the display case is made with wood laminates, so that it will be sturdy but light. He said it is being built in modular pieces so it can be “assembled like a piece of furniture.”
“It will hang on the wall, but if they ever decide they want to move it, it won’t leave a big impact,” he said. “All they’ll have to do is fill in four nail holes, and paint.”
Actual work on the project started in mid-January, and Wiseman said he hopes to be done by the end of summer. He said he’s spending two and a half days each week on the project.
The biggest challenges, he said, have been converting his ideas to a design and adapting the project to meet requirements of the Missouri Department Transportation, which is administering the state grant.
“They’ve been great to work with, but they’re more used to building roads and bridges,” he said.
The display will occupy space at the south end of the courthouse lobby, just across from the elevator.
By Susan Redden
- Carthage, Jasper County
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