Route 66 in the News

Grant to Help Restoration of The Mill

2009-08-04 21:27:23

LINCOLN, Ill. - A $10,000 grant is on its way to help fund the restoration of The Mill, a former Lincoln restaurant whose 80th anniversary was celebrated last month.

"This is really good news for us because it allows us to put a new foundation around the building, which will give it stability," said Geoff Ladd, Route 66 Heritage Foundation chairman.

Ladd says National Park Service grants are made available to assist in the restoration of historical structures along the Route 66 corridor.

Officials are estimating it will take around $100,000 to fully restore The Mill. So far, about $45,000 has been raised.

All of the labor is being done by volunteers. Lincoln resident John Sutton is serving as the project manager.

"We were kind of at a standstill because we didn't have any grant money to go forward," Sutton said. "But this grant means we can start working again and that's a positive step forward."

The Mill was opened officially on July 25, 1929, by Paul Coddington, who became known for serving patrons grilled sandwiches at any hour of the day or night. A Dutch-themed building with blue trim, it featured a spinning windmill and waitresses dressed in blue with white aprons.

In 1945, Coddington sold the building to Albert and Blossom Huffman, who added a barroom and dance hall. They painted the building a bright shade of red and the restaurant earned a reputation for its fried schnitzel.

By the mid-1980s, The Mill was slowly turning into a museum. It closed in 1996.

It was scheduled for demolition in 2006, but volunteers formed a group to save the building with the promise of restoring it.

"There is so much history with this particular building that we're always learning something new," Ladd said. "It doesn't matter what kind of history you are interested in, either, because there are so many different topics."

For instance, at last month's anniversary celebration, a paranormal investigation was included due to various rumors about bodies being buried at or near the site.

"We've heard stories that Al Capone had some runners who would frequent The Mill, and we're still analyzing the data from the investigation, but it appears there are some orbs and sounds that we can't explain," Ladd said. "The great thing is that this building is being saved and these stories will live on."

~Kevin Barlow, Pantagraph.com

 

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