GALENA, Kan. — A military veteran has purchased a historic Kansas gas station along old Route 66 with plans to restore the building to its original condition.
U.S. Army and Coast Guard veteran Aaron Perry is the new owner of a 1939 Texaco gas station in Galena, a town near the state’s borders with Missouri and Oklahoma. The Wakarusa resident stumbled upon the for-sale gas station last year while driving to the Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Missouri, the Joplin Globe reported .
Perry called the opportunity to acquire the building a dream come true. It’s his retirement project for the next several years, he said.
“I can hang out on Route 66, talk to travelers and share their stories and adventures,” Perry said. “It will be a place to hang out.”
Perry plans to renovate the gas station’s interior and exterior, place vintage gas pumps in the parking lot and install neon lighting. The veteran, who’s also an artist, wants to sell gearhead artwork created out of car parts at the station as well.
“Some of the artwork I’ve made includes lamps made out license plates and hub caps. I made a swing out of an old trunk lift from a Shoebox Ford. I want the Texaco to not only be a place to gather, but I want it to be unique,” he said.
He envisions transforming the bathroom into the “Pink Flamingo Room,” featuring pink appliances, walls and tiles.
“In the ’70s when you went across country and stopped at a service station, they’d hand you the bathroom key and it was attached to a big old hub cap,” Perry said. “I’m going to do that.”
Route 66, also called the Mother Road, was one of the first roads in the U.S. highway system. It connected Chicago to Los Angeles and was an economic driver for small towns across the U.S. after World War II. The route changed a number of times through the years, and eventually became less of a destination thanks to new interstate highways.
Renee Charles, president of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association, said she’s thrilled that a Route 66 enthusiast is restoring a piece of American history.
“I think it’s pretty exciting,” Charles said. “I think it will be another draw to Galena.”