Hopes For Tulsa Route 66 Revitalization Snuffed By Brookshire Motel Fire
TULSA, Oklahoma - Route 66 preservationists are facing a set back right now after a fire torched the cottage building at the old Brookshire Motel near 11th and Garnett.
Tulsa Fire Department says the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Tulsa Route 66 Commission says thousands of people come through Tulsa every year to see historic Route 66 attractions, and they were hoping to someday revitalize the old motel.
“I'd loved to have seen it turned back into a motel so people could have that Route 66 experience, but that appears to be in the past now,” said Route 66 Commission Chair Rhys Martin.
Rhys Martin says he saw a photo of the old Brookshire Motel on fire while he was scrolling through Twitter and rushed out to see it in person.
Martin says the Route 66 Commission was trying to work with the motel’s Texas-based owner in hopes of restoring it to its former glory.
"People would drive by and think, 'oh well it's not a big deal,' but these sites are important, and it's something that people don't think about until they're gone," said Martin.
Related Story: Fire Destroys Part Of Abandoned Motel On Route 66 In Tulsa
The motel was built in the 1940s during the early days of Route 66.
The Brooks family later bought it and named it the Brookshire.
“It represented a time when these roadside motels were the place everybody stopped for the night,” said Martin.
Tulsa Fire says the damage to the old cottage building is significant, and the city plans to board up what’s left of it.
Tulsa Foundation for Architecture Executive Director Amanda DeCort was able to tour some of the damage inside and says it's heartbreaking.
“Walking inside with the fire department, it was a gut punch,” said Amanda DeCort, Executive Director, Tulsa Foundation for Architecture.
There are several historic lodging options along Route 66 - like the Desert Hills Motel - but the choices in Tulsa are getting slim.
Martin says when people ask him where to stay, he says, “I have some suggestions but when they say do you have some place like the Blue Swallow Hotel in Tucumcari or the Munger Moss in Lebanon - these old family run institutions - the Desert Hills is a great option and there's some others, but we just don't have the resources like some of these other towns do.”
The Route 66 Commission works with Tulsa Police and the City of Tulsa to help revitalize some of the struggling areas along Route 66, and this was one of those areas they had hoped to save.
“We recognize that the Brookshire has had its share of struggles even before the fire, but all it takes is for someone to move in and make a change like that then other businesses follow suit,” said Martin.
DeCort says they had hoped revitalizing the Brookshire would help bring more businesses to the east side of Route 66.
“We need to capture those tourists and give them something memorable to appreciate about Tulsa so that they come back and stay here and tell other people to stay here,” said DeCort.
Now DeCort just hopes this tragedy will spark other neon signs to light up along Route 66 once more.
“I don’t know what the owner will choose to do, but I hope that it at least draws attention to the need for intervention for the endangered historic properties,” said DeCort.