Springfield is losing a piece of Route 66 history

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 11:04 PM CDT
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A piece of Route 66 history in the Ozarks is all but gone.

The Lurvey Court, built nearly 100 years ago, is being demolished.

Crews started knocking down the sandstone cabins started Monday.

The process was held off by a year at the request of the local Route 66 Historical Society until they could figure out a way to preserve what's left of the dilapidated buildings.

Despite other efforts to save the court it's now time for it to take on a new life across town.

"Things change all the time. You just hate to see it go," said Tommy Pike.

The Springfield native stopped to take pictures of what's left of Lurvey Court on Kearney Street.

"In '61, when they opened 44 over here all the traffic flowed over there on the interstate. That, pretty well, all these types of places began to go away," he said.

Besides being located on historic Route 66, the motel has other cultural significance.

"These cabins, although they weren't in the green book, if a black family came by and wanted to stay and had the two dollars, he'd let them stay.

There was no descriminiation," said David Eslick.

He worked to find ways to save the buildings.

"It was a historic site, Route 66 wise, but not the landmarks board (type of) historic site," he said.

Plans changed once acheiving landmark status failed.

"If we get to save one or build one, a replica of it then we can focus that history there," said Eslick.

Parts of the crumbling buildings will now be used at Springfield's Route 66 Roadside park on College Street.

"Having those materials that were from the Ozarks be integrated into landmarks like the roadside park are really an important part of preserving our history," said Rusty Worley.

He's also part of the group working on plans for the roadside park.

Eslick said, "We've got pictures. We've got measurements. We can build a structure that looks like these and put whatever sandstone and brick that we save out of these."

However saying goodbye to this once popular stop on Route 66 isn't easy.

Eslick said, "It's sad to see anything like this be torn down because it's history.

"You can tear these motels down but the history is still there," said Pike.

Demolition is scheduled to be finished by Wednesday.

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