A 1929 service station that once met the needs of Miami's Route 66 travelers could soon get a nostalgic makeover, according to city economic development officials.
Larry Eller, the city's community development grant coordinator, has submitted grants to the National Parks Service and the Marathon Oil Corporation to restore a former Marathon Gas Station on behalf of property owner Daryl Buckmaster.
Eller said the property, currently occupied by Bravo Salon on South Main Street, could likely be the oldest Marathon station still standing and may be the only circa 1929 original Marathon station surviving in the United States.
“Research conducted with the National Route 66 Association and Marathon Oil Company of Ashland, Ohio has only tended to verify this fact,” Eller said. “Research has been unable to locate another circa 1929 Marathon gas station anywhere else in the United States that has not been substantially altered. I have issued a challenge to anyone who can identify a Marathon station older than this one.”
Plans to restore the station include the installation of replica pumps - a reminder to travelers of historic Route 66 that, in the 1930's, motorists had to hand-pump their gasoline.
Also, Eller said the grant proposed that the image of the Marathon runner be returned to the south side of the structure and period signage and a historical marker be placed at the site.
“The purpose of the proposed project is to restore the exterior of station, a national register property, to its original circa 1929 appearance,” Eller said. “The proposed project will commemorate the importance of roadside gas stations to the development of the national Route 66 highway system.”
The total project cost for the restoration project is $15,589.00 with a required 50 percent match of $7,794.50. The property owner has secured $5,794.50 of the match while the Miami Convention and Visitor's Bureau Miami Board agreed to donate $2,000 to the project to purchase the identified historic marker, according to Eller.
After the restoration, the gas station will continue to function as a beauty shop location, according to city officials.
“The owner of the gas station and its current tenant fully support the restoration efforts,” Eller said. “The project site has high visibility being located adjacent to the intersection of Highway 69 (formerly Route 66) and Oklahoma Highway 10. Visitors will be welcome and encouraged to take photographs of this historic site.”
The beauty shop operator and her husband plan to incorporate gas station memorabilia in the interior of her shop.
“Route 66 enthusiasts are already stopping to view the gas station during their tour of the mother road. The restoration will only heighten this travel experience,” Eller said.
Eller said the project will enhance the city's $150,000 grant application that was presented to the National Scenic Byways Program on February 14, 2007, for an interpretive signage project along Route 66 in the Miami area.
“The tourism potential in Miami is enormous,” Eller said. “Each day, more than 40,000 vehicles drive by Miami on Interstate 44. If the city could divert only 1 percent of I-44 traffic to exit to Miami and visit Route 66 tourism attractions, this could equate to 400 cars a day, or more than 800 tourists visiting Miami in one day.”
Eller said tourism is a $4 billion dollar business in Oklahoma and properly promoting Route 66 tourist attractions will mean big business for Miami travel related businesses.
“It's a win-win situation for Route 66 tourists and local businesses,” Eller said.
Eller said the city should hear word of the application status within three to four months.