Sometime next year, Illinois will have a new Route 66 museum. This one will be in Litchfield, where there’s Historic Route 66 and an even earlier alignment known as Old Route 66.
“It’s on the oldest Route 66. It’s across the street from the Jubelts bakery and the Ariston [Café] in a place that used to be Vic Suhling’s “Gas for Less” gas station. The Suhling sign is still there, which is of significance as well,” said Lonnie Bathurst, a Litchfield businessman who’s head of the museum steering committee.
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The building, made of steel, stucco and brick, is built, but fund-raising is on-going for the fixtures on which to place the artifacts, which will come primarily from the Litchfield area. The building also will be home to the Montgomery County Genealogical Society. Bathurst expects the museum to be a local attraction – school field trips, etc.– as well as a destination for the hundreds of Route 66 enthusiasts who pass through Litchfield each year.
Estimated cost to set up the museum is $500,000, with operations to cost about $2,000 a month. The steering committee recently asked for a city contribution, but the council indicated it would not provide any money.
Serving the areas of Alton, Godfrey, East Alton, Wood River, Roxana, Edwardsville, Jerseyville, Brighton, Bethalto, Grafton, Granite City, Hartford, Highland, Troy, Fairview Heights, Belleville and the surrounding cities.