New Generation Hopes To Breathe Life Back Into Route 66

Monday, October 5th 2015, 11:41 pm
By: News On 6

Instead of being demolished, a 1950s-era building on 11th Street in Tulsa is being remodeled.

It is just a small part of the larger message that Tulsa is ready and willing to invest in bringing Route 66 back to life.

Since the 50s, the building has been Tulsa Brake and Clutch; but half a century later, people are finding unique and modern ways to breathe life back into the historic area.

Lisa Wakefield drives past the building on 11th Street every day, and when it recently went up for sale, she had an idea.

"It just kind of clicked - a modernized general store would be so great on Route 66,” Wakefield said.

The old 1950s Tulsa Brake and Clutch building will soon be home to her shop, Jenkins and Company.

"Household items, a little bit of everything - handcrafted items that will come directly from the artisan that made them," Wakefield said.

Across the street, on 11th, rather than being demolished, a strip of newly renovated spaces are ready for lease; just a few signs that the iconic Route 66 that runs straight through Tulsa is being saved.

"This was a family-owned business, and it is neat to carry on a business in the same location," Wakefield said.

Whether plaques on the sidewalk or fading murals on the sides of buildings, the Mother Road tradition is deeply rooted here, and people like Ken Busby, the executive director of the soon to be built Route 66 Experience, couldn't be happier.

"We've known about it but haven't done that much about it and it has got so much history. That's pretty cool. How can we develop and appreciate the Mother Road for 21st Century," he said.

With a goal of $19 million raised by July of 2016, Busby said they've already got more than $3 million since May for the Route 66 Experience.

"It’s like one of those known and undiscovered roads that has a huge history, but not for the current generation," he said.

And now Wakefield, and others like her, is bringing that message back.

Meagan: “How does it make you feel to see it and know what it will be?”
Wakefield: “It’s awesome. It’s pretty awesome."

Her shop will be in the front and there is space for two other businesses in the back.

Wakefield will have a temporary location across the street, which will open in November. Then she hopes to open the permanent Jenkins and company around February.