Route 66 in the News

Hall of Fame Adds Wishing Well to Collection

2009-03-18 19:54:02

PONTIAC, Ill. - The newest addition to the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is a 68-year-old wishing well with some highway history of its own.

Jim Jones, tour director for the museum, said the well, now behind the building near Main and Howard Streets, originally came from The Wishing Well Motel in La Grange.

The motel, which was built in 1941, was owned and operated by father and son Charles and Emil Vidas and their wives. Charles wife, Zora Vidas, took over as manager when her husband died in 1985.

The motel developed a reputation for catering to show business professionals because it was near Chicago but was quiet. Notable guests included band leaders Guy Lombardo and Tex Beneke.

The motel has since been demolished, but the well, other artifacts and the memory of Zora Vidas are preserved at the museum. She was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2004 and died about a year later, Jones said.

The hall of fame recognizes businesses and people who made significant contributions to travel on the route from its inception in 1926 until its decommissioning in 1977, Jones said.

The well was donated by the Vidas family, and the stone and wood structure needed to be taken apart and reassembled. The project started in January and was completed for display on Monday.

It looks awesome and Im really excited for the opportunity we have to share it, Pontiac Tourism Bureau Director Ellie Alexander said. I think its great that we can expand the exhibit a little into the outdoor area.

Along with the well, the museum has other artifacts from the motel, including keys, pictures and even the original sign, which is expected to be mounted in the future. One unique item is a nightstick which Vidas kept under the counter in case customers got rowdy.

She said that she only had to use it once, Jones said.

~Tony Sapochetti, Pantagraph.com

 

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