Route 66 Revitalization Initiative
Did you know that Old Manchester Road in Wildwood is part of the original Route 66? Route 66, a new highway corridor created in 1926 as a major connection to the West, is known as the “Main Street of America.” This highway gave birth to many small towns, Mom and Pop stores, and other roadside attractions. It has since been memorialized in pop culture through famous songs like, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” and in the movies, such as the Pixar film, “Cars.”
The City of Wildwood is now inviting the entire community, including area residents, businesses, churches, schools, clubs, organizations, etc., to develop a “Vision” for the Historic Route 66 Corridor through Wildwood, celebrating this heritage through the development of a signature park, art projects, signage, events, promotional literature, and the preservation of our historic buildings and places alongside it. Through this activity, the goal is to make our Historic Route 66 a thriving place for our local, small businesses, a fun place for families to spend a Sunday, an attraction to visitors interested in corridor and local history, and above all, a source of community pride.
Corridor Revitalization Plan
A community planning effort for the entire historic corridor is proposed to fully leverage Route 66 tourism, as a catalyst for economic development in Wildwood Town Center as a whole. The planning effort would build on the historic character and community assets that already exist along the corridor, particularly in the Historic Grover and Pond Areas (i.e. the cluster of unique boutique shops in Historic Grover that now occupy buildings that used to be blacksmith shops and general stores, the Big Chief Roadhouse, the Pond Inn, Old Pond School, etc.), to further develop areas with a strong historic community identity and economic vitality, or what urban planners like to call “sense of place,” such as what a person might experience today on Historic Main Street, St. Charles, or in little downtown Caledonia, Missouri (located about an hour and a half south on MO-21). It is intended this “historic” part of Town Center, particularly in the Historic Grover Area, would complement and synergize with Wildwood’s “New” Town Center and the future Village Green development.
A Steering Committee is presently being formed, made up of community leaders and corridor stakeholders, to drive its initial development, and the Department of Planning and Parks is actively seeking a means to fund the planning effort, potentially taking place in fall 2023, which would result in a community vision for the corridor and a strategic roadmap for its implementation. For more information, visit www.cityofwildwood.com/route66revitalization or contact Planner, Robyn Keefe, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The historic building now known as The Porch, a home furnishings boutique, was originally a blacksmith shop. Additions and alterations to the building have occurred over time, but there are still remnants of the old shop incorporated into the present structure.
Route 66 Roadside Park
As a catalyst for this investment along Old Manchester Road, the Historic Preservation Commission is proposing to establish a small roadside heritage park as a tribute to the corridor’s legacy in the heart of Historic Grover, at the southeastern corner of Grover Crossing Drive and Manchester Road (across the street and a little west of Larry’s Tavern). It is proposed to serve as an interpretive site for the historic Route 66 corridor (with a focus on Wildwood’s history), a shaded respite for visitors, and a community gathering place for celebrations. Many communities have established similar parks, all with their own unique interpretation of the road, and its history.
SWT Design, a landscape architectural firm, will develop potential design concepts for the site this fall, after input and engagement with area residents, business owners, local students, and organizations such as the Wildwood Historical Society and the Route 66 Association of Missouri. Learn more about the park project and take the survey to share your ideas!
Student Route 66 Taskforce
Eight middle and high school students representing five area schools (LaSalle Springs Middle, Rockwood Valley Middle, Wildwood Middle, Lafayette High, and Eureka High) have been charged with engaging the broader school community in the City’s Route 66 projects. It is anticipated this group will spearhead Route 66 art projects, musical performances, pop-up events, and even a design competition for the Route 66 Roadside Park Project, as well as be involved in the proposed planning effort. Congratulations to Nolan Myers, Sydney Schott, Shruthi Senthil, Avyukth Raghuraman, Lauren Dean, Lily Ge, Haley Cottrell, and Allie Suliman for being nominated by their respective schools for this important community project!
Student Taskforce Members (left to right) Lauren Dean, Haley Cottrell, Shruthi Senthil, Lily Ge, and Allie Suliman pose in front of the Pond Historic Community Marker on their bus tour of Wildwood's historic Route 66.
Route 66 at Celebrate Wildwood
To celebrate all the activity taking place around the City’s historic Route 66, this year’s signature event will include a Route 66-themed parade, entitled Route 66: Then and Now. If you love antique and vintage cars, you won’t want to miss it! Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 24th, 2022.
Community Presentation (April 28, 2022):
Opportunities for Wildwood's Route 66 Corridor
Presentation on Historic Route 66 by Joe Sonderman, Route 66 Association of Missouri
Click here to see a YouTube video of Joe Sonderman's presentation on Historic Route 66 to the Wildwood Historic Preservation Commission at the end of 2020.