The first of three Route 66 murals for Lebanon’s Route 66-themed Boswell Park was unveiled Feb. 18 in a ceremony hosted by the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society in partnership with the Lebanon Parks and Recreation Department.
The mural depicts an iconic 1957 Chevrolet driving Route 66 at the entrance of Lebanon. The second mural will show a 1929 Texaco gas truck crossing the Gasconade River Bridge in eastern Laclede County. The third will be a tribute to the Nelson family, which donated much of the land for Route 66 in Lebanon and later operated Nelson’s Dream Village and the Nelson Tavern at the Route 66 intersection with Missouri 5.
Speakers at the ceremony included Chuck Jordan, a Lebanon city councilman and a board member of the Route 66 Society; Danny Rhoads, presiding commissioner of Laclede County, which donated $25,000 toward the project; Bruce Owen, an heir to the Nelson family and a board member of the Route 66 Society; John Shelton, director of Lebanon Parks and Recreation; Paul Whitehill, whose Joplin-based Whitehill Enterprises is designing and fabricating the murals; and Bill Jones, president of the Route 66 Society. Vice President Gary Sosniecki was master of ceremonies.
“The mural we dedicate today is the first of three that will be on display here to pay homage to the spirit of the travelers and the history of the people who provide rest, food, and comfort to those who traveled past this place on their way to the adventures and opportunities that awaited at the end of their journey,” Jordan said.
Boswell Park fronts Elm Street, which was Route 66’s original path through Lebanon from 1926 to 1957.
The mural project goes hand-in-hand with improvements to Boswell Park that embrace a Route 66 theme, including a replica of the fountain from Nelson’s Dream Village.
The 20-foot-by-10-foot murals consist of digitally printed kiln-fired tiles.
The Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society is in charge of fund-raising for the $75,000 project. On the day of the ceremony, $5,300 was donated to the project. As of mid-March, $10,000 remained to be raised.
Donors of at least $100 will be recognized on tile plaques on the backs of the murals. The size of the donation will determine the size of the font used in displaying the donor’s name.
Checks may be written to the Lebanon Area Foundation with the notation “Route 66 Mural Project.” They may be mailed to the Lebanon Area Foundation, P.O. Box 1042, Lebanon, MO 65536, or to the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, P.O. Box 66, Lebanon, MO 65536.
The goal is for all three murals to be complete by the Lebanon Route 66 Festival, which will be June 17 in Boswell Park. This will be the first festival since a nine-year run that ended in 2009.