After months of poring over maps looking for an ideal location to start a roadside business, Arthur Boots found the perfect spot in Carthage, Missouri and moved his family there from Kansas City in 1938. At first, his idea was to build a gas station with four tourist cabins around it. Seeing that the hospitality business would make more money, however, he decided to nix the gas station idea and just run a full-fledged motor court.
Get on Your Boots
Boots opened his eponymous motor court on the southwest corner of the intersection of U.S. Route 66 and U.S. Route 71 in Carthage – a place he dubbed the “Crossroads of America”. (In truth, however, you’ll find that there are several intersections along Route 66 calling themselves the “Crossroads of America”. Heck, even the whole state of Indiana has adopted it as their state motto.)
Arthur designed the Boots Court Motel himself, taking inspiration from Art Deco’s Streamlined Moderne style popular at the time. The roof of the motor court is flat with three parapets with “bullnose”, or rounded, corners. The side of the motel is made of smooth stucco cladding with black glass accents. The doors to each of the four rooms were handmade, as was some of the furniture inside.
Between each pair of rooms was a carport so guests could pull their cars right up to their rooms and unload their suitcases in covered comfort and privacy. This would later prove useful when Clark Gable once stayed the night at the Boots Court with a friend and was able to have a comfortable night virtually unnoticed.
Finally, he erected the red and white neon sign that says “Boots Court” and, in 1939, the Boots Court opened for business advertising “A Radio in Every Room”. (That same year, television sets were first demonstrated and sold to the public at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.) To keep undesirables away, Boots charged $2.50 a night – pretty expensive for the time. It was an immediate success. So much so, that Arthur soon added four more rooms to the Boots Court.
These Boots Were Made For Walking
As lucky as he was in business, however, Arthur didn’t seem to be so lucky at love. He and his wife, Ilda, divorced in 1941 with Ilda getting the motel. Nevertheless, Arthur would go on to build the Boots Drive-In across the street (now the Great Plains Federal Credit Union).
In the meantime, Ilda sold the motel to Pleas Neeley and his wife in 1944. They decided to keep the name because, after all, they already had that big, beautiful neon sign out front and they were expensive to replace.
The Neeleys would build five more rooms in the building out back, trying their best to keep with the design of the original building. However, after running the motel for just four short years, they would sell the building to Reuben and Rachel Asplin in 1948.
The Asplins would go on to own and operate was then called the Boots Motel (though the sign still read “Boots Courts” because, again, neon signs are expensive) until 1991 when Rachel passed away at the age of 91. (Reuben passed away in 1974).
Of course, some changes were made in all those years under the Asplins reigns. Televisions were now in every room and gables were added to the roof after Rachel got fed up with having to tar the flat roof every year. Under Rachel’s flair for color and interior design, the rooms were also now very colorful – far different from the black and white of Arthur Boots’ original color scheme.
Unfortunately, the Boots Court would change hands several times after Rachel’s death, at one point almost being razed. Things were about to change for the Boots Court Motel in 2006, however, after two sisters decided to take a road trip down Route 66.
Sisters are Doing It for Themselves
While on their way from Chicago to Los Angeles via the Mother Road in 2006, sisters Deborah Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw witnessed firsthand just how sad a shape the Boots Court was in. As a result, they decided to purchase and renovate the historic motor court when they saw it up for sale in August 2011.
Nine months later, the five rooms built in the back building by the Neeleys were opened for guests. Today, thanks to National Park Service grants, a Go Fund Me campaign, and money out of their own pockets, seven of the original 13 rooms can accommodate up to 24 guests a night.
In the meantime, the sisters are continuing to work on getting the rest of the building back to its original 1949 appearance. So far, they’ve been pretty successful with road warriors and Route 66 enthusiasts from all over the world have stayed at the Boots Court Motel since the sisters took over. They come to see some of that old-school road trip charm that used to be – things like the wood flooring, the painted plastered walls, the ceramic tile showers, the built-in wooden desks, and the in-window air conditioners in each room.
There are also the carports that still offer the convenience and privacy that any modern day Clark Gable can appreciate. And of course, there’s “A Radio in Every Room” tuned into an AM channel that plays music from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s every hour of the day and night.
Still, no matter how original to its 1949 feel it gets, the sisters have also kept in mind the modern convenience that roadtrippers and family vacationers have come to count on today – Free WIFI! Still you won’t find television, refrigerators, microwaves or coffeemakers. After all, even Clark Gable couldn’t get those!
If you’d like to stay in Blue Court Motel and get those 1940s authentic Route 66 feels, call 417-310-2989 or email them at email@example.com for reservations or more info.
Just because summer is nearly half over doesn’t mean that you can’t welcome the rest of it with some of your favorite road trip snacks and souvenirs from Stuckey’s. In fact, our “Welcome to Summer” Gift Box is chock full of the pecany goodness you’ve come to love us for like:
2 – 2 oz. Pecan Log Rolls
2 – 1.7 oz Pecan Divinity
2 – 1.5 oz. Pecan Pralines
1 – 12 oz. Salt Water Taffy
1 – 8 oz. Hunkey Dorey
1 – 4 oz. Sea Salt Pecans
1 – 4 oz. Kettle Glazed Pecans
1 – Candy Shoppe Coffee Mug
and a Plush 12″ Squirrel to keep you company no matter where you roam this summer.
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!