The History of the Boots Motel
Note: Some details below were obtained from local residents and may not be completely accurate until confirmed in the future. We are working on that.
The Boots Motel in Carthage Missouri, a classic example of Streamline Moderne influenced Architecture with its distinct green neon, evolved into a Route 66 icon from the early days of motor tourism.
For entertainment, there was a radio in every room. The 1935 census listed 9848 tourist courts across the country; by 1940 there were 20,000. At its 1939 opening of the Boots, Arthur and Ida Boots advertised "A Radio in Every Room". The covered carport with every room is a reminder of when cars were considered a coveted luxury rather than the necessity they have become. For its time it was indeed thoroughly modern with a radio in every room, showers with tiled floors, and a floor furnace with thermostat control. There is an underground service corridor from the garage storage area on the alley to the motel. The furnaces and utilities were accessable here. The roof was originally flat. Rooms all had a single double bed except room #8 which had two twin beds.....all with chenille beadspreads. Rooms #5, #6, #7 & #8 were reputed to be"kitchenettes", and had an alcove with a two-burner stovetop. The floors were originally wood or tile, the walls were stucco painted white and furnishings included two end tables, a dresser and several heavy chromed steel chairs with padded leatherette seats and backs.
Sometime later, The Boots family sold the Motel to the Neelys, who added the the detached rear building which had five larger motel rooms early in 1946. These rooms had oak wood floors and room and two double beds.
The Neelys purchased Boots Court in the early 1940's. In 1948, the motel was sold to the Asplins, who ran the Motel until 1990. Mrs. Asplin, who was 78 years old in 1978, didn't want to climb up on the roof and mop tar to keep the flat roof waterproof, so she had the gable roof installed to update the appearance and reduce the maintenance. She was also the one who added the pink neon around the gables. In 1990, Mrs. Asplin died and left the Motel property to Sharon Rogers , and in 1991 the motel was sold to John Ferguson Sr. of Carthage, who also owned a motel one block to the north called the Dazey Courts Motel. He began renting the Boots rooms on a weekly and monthly basis. He later passed away and his son sold the motel in late 2003 to Vince Scott, a Carthage building contractor.
Scott had hoped to sell the Boots property to Walgreens for a profit, however the Carthage community rallied to save the Boots from destruction by convincing Walgreens to go elsewhere. The economy later worsened, and Scott began renting the rooms on a weekly basis to derive an income, then later put the Motel up for sale. By the Spring of 2011, Scott had been unable to find a buyer and had defaulted on his loan with his bank, so the Boots was sold at auction. Hometown Bank now owned the Boots Motel and began a search for a buyer.
In the summer of 2011, two sisters, Deborah Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw learned that the venerable motel was for sale and purchased it with the goal of restoring it to the way it was in 1949. They held an open house that September to show the Carthage community what the historic motel looked like prior to restoration. Ron and Barbara Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce became the property managers for the Motel and began exclusive restoration work on the five rooms in the 1946 annex. By May 8th. of 2012, all five rooms had been restored and the Boots Motel opened for business. A ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by many local residents, City officials and Bob Boots, son of the original owner Arthur Boots.
The motel has always been featured in many national and international publications. It was included in the Route 66 Missouri Historic Resources Survey and the State Historic Preservation Office. The Motel is a favorite of Route 66 enthusiasts and has hosted actor Clark Gable and singing cowboy Gene Autry, his on-screen sidekick "Smiley Burnett" (and his horse). Other notables include world famous orchestra leader Guy Lombardo. Historic Route 66 runs in front of the motel before turning west on Oak Street at Carthage's Memorial Hall, and was likely to have hosted many other notable and famous people during the forty's and fifty's who preferred highway travel to flying.
Film crews from Japan, England and other foreign countries often used footage of the motel in documentaries about Route 66, and numerous websites lament the possible loss of this iconic building that once meant so much to the Carthage community in days-gone-by.