This presentation is part of Are We There Yet? Preservation of Roadside Architecture & Attractions Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 10-12, 2018.
By Jim Thole
The Neon Heritage Preservation Committee (NHPC) is a subgroup of the Route 66 Association of Missouri. The goal of the committee is to restore existing neon signs still in place and also the preservation of orphaned signs in a neon sign park. The success of the NHPC’s sign restoration efforts is based on four elements: 50-50 matching grants awarded through the NPS Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program; the expertise of committee members; partnerships at many levels; and the popularity of Route 66 neon signs. Physical aspects of sign restoration addressed by the committee include: restoring on site or off site; cabinet type; neon tubing; internal electronics; and the electrical distribution network. This presentation will include information and images of the committee’s completed sign restoration projects and a project currently underway.
Jim Thole grew up in Highland, Illinois just off Route 66, and moved to Manchester, Missouri in the mid-70’s. He began travelling Route 66 in 1992, and has driven the entire route. He was elected to the Board of Directors for the Route 66 Association of Missouri 12 years ago, and soon became the chairman of its newly-formed Neon Heritage Preservation Committee.
That committee of four (dubbed “Team Neon” by a St. Louis newspaper in one of its 2013 “best of” awards) has now directed the restoration of 12 Route 66 historic neon signs in Missouri & Illinois over the last ten years.