Route 66 in the News
Historic Designation Sought
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Most anyone who has lived in Springfield more than a couple of decades probably has a prom, first-date, family vacation or regular-dining-spot story about the Lamplighter, formally known as INN OF THE LAMPLIGHTER.
This week a group of residents at the Route 66 landmark-turned-condos begins the work of putting a piece of the property, an indoor swimming pool and deck, on a county register of historic landmarks.
“It (the pool area) still has a lot of its original character. It’s still very much like it was in the 1960s,” said Randy Schick, a Springfield attorney and president of the Lamplighter Home Owner’s Association. “A large part of the rest of the property was demolished, and the remainder was converted to condos.”
The official address is 6600 S. Sixth St. But most motorists probably would recognize it as the dark-brown cluster of hotel-style units visible from northbound Interstate 55 on the north side of Lake Springfield.
Schick also is a member of the Sangamon County Historic Preservation Commission, which is scheduled to consider the application Wednesday. But he said the nomination is based on a vote of the 17 homeowners.
Final approval of the historic landmark designation would be up to the county board.
The better-known part of the complex, a restaurant fronted by a 55-foot tower and observatory that was a landmark for travelers on Route 66 in the inn’s heyday, was demolished in 1998. A history of the restaurant pointed out that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Pat Boone and Ethel Waters were among its more famous visitors.
The restaurant had been empty for about 15 years before it was demolished.
Route 66 historians also say the Lamplighter was among the earliest hotels along the historic road to provide an indoor pool. The hotel and restaurant was built in 1948, but the business began to struggle when it was bypassed by the interstate in the 1970s.
The tropical-themed swimming pool, which is still used by residents, was added in 1960, according to the landmark application. The application also is based on a period mosaic-tile bottom and basket-weave pattern on the side.
An island in the center of the pool serves as a foundation for roof-support columns, as do 15 simulated palm trees.
Designation as a historic landmark would require county approval before the pool area could be demolished or significantly altered, Schick said.
He added that he has his own memory of the Lamplighter after he moved to Springfield in the 1970s.
“It was probably where my wife and I went on our first date. It was a beautiful restaurant,” said Schick.
~Tim Landis, State Journal-Register