Route 66 in the News

Preservation Grant Awarded

2009-09-01 21:58:49

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Colors of the West, a retail store located on Route 66 in Williams, was recently awarded a cost-share grant from the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. The program provides assistance for eligible historic preservation projects along Route 66.

Owner Mike Bessler plans to use the grant funding to upgrade the electrical system and eliminate unused wiring, circuits and exposed conduit.

"Over 60 years of electrical has been added and changed. Nothing is at code anymore," said Bessler.

Bessler hopes to start the renovation of the building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, sometime in October.

"Once you get the grant, they want you to start right away," he said.

Bessler explained that because he is a first time grant writer, the process turned out to be somewhat of headache. However, he said the end result was worth the effort.

"Would I do it again? Yeah, I'd do it again," Bessler said. "Somebody needs to be employed by the city of Williams to write grants."

Although he has been awarded the grant, Bessler has not seen any of the funding yet. He expects the funding to be released soon.

Michael F. Vasquez, owner of Alternative Impressions located next door to Colors of the West, was happy to hear that one of the Preservation Program grants had been awarded to a business in Williams.

"Improvements to the downtown area are always good for tourism because we're cleaning up. People want to see not only historic buildings but historic buildings that look good and these grants are enabling us to be able to do that and share in the cost of trying to update these buildings," Vasquez said.

Bessler, who also owns Coyote Kid Trading Company, has operated Colors of the West with his wife Jacque for eight years. The building that houses Colors of the West was originally constructed by prominent Williams developer C.F. Boyle in 1912. Known as the Duffy Brothers building, it housed a grocery store until 1954 when it then became the Indian House, selling Indian crafts and tourist souvenirs.

The grant is one of three being awarded by the National Park Service. The other two recipients are the Sunset Motel in Villa Ridge, Mo. and Beck's City Service in Tulsa, Okla. Since the program's inception in 2001, $3.8 million in grant requests have been submitted. To date, 86 projects have been awarded $1.3 million, based on funding availability.

~Ryan Williams,


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