Route 66 Revitalization Initiative
On Thursday, April 28th, the City of Wildwood hosted a Route 66 Revitalization Kick-Off Event in partnership with Living Word United Methodist Church, Big Chief Roadhouse, Rockwood School District, Wildwood Historical Society and the Route 66 Association of Missouri, inclusive of area residents, business owners, property owners, church and school leaders, and public organizations, with representation from statewide and regional agencies and organizations involved in history, historic preservation, and tourism. The goal of the proposed community initiative is to catalyze small business growth in Wildwood by investing in the community’s history and historical character that still exists in its landscape today. Emphasized at this event was the importance of involving the entire community in this work.
A portion of this event included a Trolley Tour of Wildwood’s Original Alignments of Route 66, hosted by the Wildwood Historic Preservation Commission, in an effort to woo Missouri Main Street Connection, a statewide leader for preservation-based economic development, into awarding the City with a Community Empowerment Grant. This grant would provide two years of its services in helping the Wildwood community to develop a vision and strategic roadmap for revitalization of its historic Town Center commercial districts, in the context of promoting the entire corridor as a cultural heritage tourism destination for Route 66 travelers and the region. Approximately 30 businesses and institutions put out signs and other displays in support of the effort, which did not go unnoticed by Missouri Main Street.
The portion of the event at Living Word Church began with Route 66 Roadside Park engagement and community history displays, with the Presentation involving a welcome message from Mayor Bowlin, words of support from Rockwood School District, a performance from the Lafayette High School A Cappella Choir, Vox Solus, a general history of the road provided by Joe Sonderman of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, and a presentation from City Staff on the potential opportunities for revitalizing Wildwood’s Original Route 66 Corridor.
The event ended at Big Chief Roadhouse, a Route 66 National Landmark, with attendees primarily congregating in an upstairs Speakeasy, where the owners generously provided a wine tasting in support of the effort. A particularly symbolic moment took place when Historic Preservation Commissioner, Jim Hrubes, took a photograph with “Lucky” of Lucky Dog Central, a new business in Wildwood located on the historic corridor, just outside of Big Chief.
To learn more about this initiative and get involved, contact Robyn Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Main Street grant award will be announced in early to mid-May. Thank you to all who participated and contributed to this community-building event!
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.