The announcement of project completion came from
Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County board secretary, Geoff
Ladd, in an update to the Lincoln City Council on Monday, February
21st. The 501c3 non-profit foundation owns the iconic former
restaurant and bar that sprang up along the original Route 66
alignment in Lincoln in 1929. The business was originally a sandwich
stand, and evolved of the years into a restaurant, a bar and even a
dance hall with live music.
Ladd offered his thanks to Lincoln Mayor Neitzel and the City
Council, including Alderman Tracy Welch, who was an enthusiastic
early supporter of the project. Matthews Construction of Lincoln was
the building contractor for the project.
On April 29th, 2017, The Mill on Route 66 will open
for the first time ever as a Route 66 museum. The restroom project
is one of the final steps in the restoration process. Ladd told the
City Council that the rest of the building is nearing completion,
including the floorplans for the museum displays. Plans also
include a gift shop, featuring unique local items and Route 66
Ladd requested from the Mayor and City Council a
proclamation marking April 29th as “Route 66 Day in Lincoln”. He
presented the council with plans for a parade from Historic Downtown
Lincoln departing at 11am and ending up at The Mill, where there
will be a formal ribbon cutting and Grand Opening from Noon-4pm.
The downtown district is now signed as the 1926-1930 alignment in
Lincoln, thanks to the efforts of the City of Lincoln, Illinois
Department of Transportation and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
By following this newly signed alignment, Route 66 travelers will
experience the historic structures that make up Lincoln’s downtown,
including City Hall (with the phone booth on top of the building),
the Logan County Courthouse, the Andrew Carnegie-designed Lincoln
Public Library, the Lincoln Depot (which is undergoing renovation)
and the uniquely beautiful Scully Building. There is also an Abraham
Lincoln downtown walking tour that includes Lincoln’s famous
Watermelon Christening Scene. And for shoppers, check out the large
variety of specialty shops downtown and plenty of great home-cooked
dining options for visitors coming to town.
The proclamation and parade plans will be finalized and voted on by
the City of Lincoln in March. The Railsplitter Antique Auto Club,
Salt Creek ABATE Chapter and the Abraham Lincoln National
Railsplitting Festival have all indicated their interest in being a
part of the parade. All of these organizations have also been big
supporters and volunteers at The Mill. Local, State and Federal
officials have also been invited.
Ladd announced that the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County
has been working with the Logan County Tourism Bureau, and they are
providing a grant for advertising and collateral materials for the
upcoming grand opening event. He also announced Lincoln-based
technology firm, Integrity Data is donating a computer system and
monitor to the museum, and that
ExploreLoganCounty.com will be providing smartphone technology
enhancements as well. Visitors will be able to access a QR code that
will provide additional audio and video materials about the various
displays. Ladd noted that the museum will feature transportation
themes from Logan County’s rich Route 66 history, including food,
fuel and lodging. He noted that the museum will house the official
collection from both The Mill in Lincoln and the former Pig Hip
Restaurant in Broadwell.
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In addition, Ladd announced that the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of
Logan County had recently received a donation from Invenergy LLC.
Invenergy is a Chicago-based company in the process of developing
the Logan County Wind Energy Project in the rural Atlanta, Illinois
area. Route 66 Heritage Foundation president Bob Wilmert worked with
Invenergy project development manager Allyson Sand, and the company
subsequently made a $2500 donation.
“It's great when an iconic Route 66 property like the Mill in
Lincoln is restored and can again be shared with visitors from
around the world,” observed Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. “A lot of hard work, creativity and
cooperation will be rewarded this Spring when the Mill resumes its
proper place as one of the great stops anywhere on the Mother Road.”
The April 29th date for the event is also the same
day as the annual Bike Blessing in Lincoln, hosted by local
motorcycle enthusiasts, Ron & Lois Thornton. The event is being held
at Zero Tolerance in Lincoln beginning at 1pm, and includes a meal
and live music.
Local Lincoln attractions, Postville Courthouse State Historic Site
and Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College will also be open
that day. The grand opening event is also during Lincoln College’s
Alumni Reunion weekend.
After the grand opening, the celebration will move to Spirited
Republic craft beer bar and wine shop, located on the south side of
the square, from 4pm-6pm. The public is invited.
“We’ve had so many incredible grants, donations,
contributions, in-kind volunteers and supporters, that we are
dedicating the back wall of The Mill to display the individuals,
companies and organizations that have made this all possible. For
example, we now have had two Logan County wind farm projects make
donations (Apex Clean Energy and Invenergy LLC), the local band 5th
Saturday Opry recently did a fund-raiser for us, the Lincoln College
music program has provided fantastic live music at our events,
Lincoln Printers is providing our new outside sign and Serendipity
Stitches, located in downtown Lincoln, has made an amazing
contribution which you’ll have to wait until opening day to see,”
said Ladd. “I want to thank everyone as always over these past 11
years who have contributed, including John Weiss and the volunteers
from the Route 66 Association of Illinois, Bill Kelly and the
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, Bill Hoagland and the Logan County
Tourism Bureau, State Representative Tim Butler, all our board
members and volunteers, and especially at this time, the National
Park Service and the City of Lincoln.”
Details forthcoming at Mill66.com.
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