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Historic Route 66 Site Restored And Ready For Business

What was once a stopping place on the Mother Road has found new life, thanks to a partnership between a local Route 66 scholar and the Town of Normal.

At the height of the depression, Sprague’s Super Service on Route 66 in Normal opened for business as a service station, restaurant and garage. Decades later, the interstate drew traffic away from the Mother Road and the business floundered. For a while, the building housed a bridal shop before eventually sitting empty, the years and weather taking their toll on one of the few remaining vintage two-story service stations on Route 66.

Enter Terri Ryburn, a lifelong Route 66 fan and scholar of the Mother Road. She moved in, taking on the awesome project of restoring the historic building. Then last year, Ryburn sold the station to the Town of Normal.

“They really kicked in gear on the interior,” Ryburn said of the restoration. “I’m so proud of the workers of the Town of Normal. They really gave it their all.”

Ryburn will continue to be a part of Sprague Super Service as the proprietor of Ryburn Place, a shop specializing in Route 66 items—some of which are exclusive to the site—plus works from local artists.

“I have some wonderful handmade items—cards, scarves, baskets and more. I really want to support local artists through my efforts in Ryburn Place.”

The Town of Normal’s investment in the historic building is an investment in the growing Route 66 tourism trade, according to town spokesperson Dan Irvin.

“The more that we can add to the attractiveness of Bloomington-Normal as a Route 66 destination, the more opportunity we have for people, at least, to lunch and shop here. At best, to spend the night here."

The grand opening of Sprague’s Super Service is Saturday, Aug. 12. from 6 to 9 p.m. Mayor Chris Koos will attend the ribbon cutting.

You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Ryburn and Irvin:

GLT's full interview with Terry Ryburn and Dan Irvin.

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.