CARTHAGE, Mo. — An iconic piece of Carthage’s yesteryear is getting an elaborate facelift.
“It’s going to be the 2nd oldest hotel on Route 66,” said Danny Lambeth, Boots Foundation.
That’s the Boots Court Motel — built back in 1939, with some additions in the 40s, but it’s been showing its age in recent years.
“The roof has to be replaced, the whole outside of the building will be sandblasted, and painted, and repaired. The neon, which was removed, will be reintalled.”
And all that work will be done thanks to the very recent formation of a nonprofit called “The Boots Court Foundation.”
Even the rooms will be returned to their former glory, some needing a bit more work than others.
“We had to do some demolition in the front eight rooms because we had some moisture issues and things like that, so we’re actually rebuilding some of the rooms.”
The Foundation has gotten to work right away on a vision that could potentially total hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The people that are organizing to do this felt like our society is constantly getting rid of things from the past and replacing it with new things, and we wanted people to experience what it was like to stay in a hotel in the 40s,” said Lambeth.
Getting rid of the past almost happened on that prominent corner.
“I think about 15 years ago or so, maybe even a little bit longer than that, it was purchased by an investor that hoped to sell this whole corner off to a retail establishment. That didn’t work out. And, then, fortunately there were two sisters that came in and saved the Boots. Literally saved the Boots.”
Those sisters did a lot of things for the hotel and its integrity, even previously restoring the roof to its original design. But when they sold it in fall of 2021, the sisters made the new group of owners make a promise — don’t touch the spot where a gas pump used to be.
“When Arthur Boots first built this, it was a gas station, so the very front part of this building was all there was,” Lambeth said. “The rest of the lot has to be paved for safety purposes and for water control, but we are going to save that area because that’s part of what we’re doing, we’re trying to preserve history.”
And, don’t worry, that’s the theme for the entire restoration process.
“Why not just build a new hotel? Why not have a new Boots Court? Well, the bottom line is, without history, we don’t know where we came from and we don’t know where we’re going.”
With Route 66’s recent declaration as a national park and an upcoming 100th birthday for the Mother Road in 2026, now just felt like the right time to get it back to its shining heyday.
“We feel like it’s going to be a lot more people traveling the route. There’s a lot of people that currently travel the route. And we want them to get off Route 66 and we want them to come to Carthage,” Lambeth added.
The goal is to show off a whole corner for travelers, and locals might see some changes as the process continues.
“Just cleaning up the whole corner. You know, we’re looking forward but we’re very focused on what we need to accomplish right now.”
No one has stayed at the Boots in several months, but guests will soon be welcomed in summer of 2022.
“This is an opportunity to keep something that once we would have lost, you know, you’re never going to recover that. It’s gone forever. It’s a part of our history that we should be proud of,” said Lambeth.