Let’s Revisit the Route 66 Gas Station/Gift Shop

By:  Diane Benjamin

The location is 305 Pine in Normal – the former Sprague’s Service Station.  It is supposedly historic and a Route 66 attraction.

The Town of Normal:

  • paid off Terri Ryburn’s mortgage – $229,000
  • gave Ryburn $5000
  • bought the lot next door for $24,000
  • paid $148,000 to replace the parking lot
  • paid property taxes of $4,047.58 this year
  • allows Ryburn to operate a gift shop when she isn’t out of town for the winter
  • And Last but Not Least – Ryburn gets to live there for 10 years for $120 a YEAR

Of course the Town didn’t pay for anything – taxpayers did.

But that’s not all:

overhead door

Teri needs a new overhead door – at your expense.

I can’t wait to see what it cost.

Add this to the list of properties Normal “rents” where the amount collected doesn’t come close to covering the cost, evidently a profit for taxpayers is never considered.  Of course, capitalism is a dirty word while crony capitalism thrives.

Tell us all again about the professional staff and the great job they do.  Or is Chris Koos responsible while his Council lackeys did their best bobble-head imitations?



15 thoughts on “Let’s Revisit the Route 66 Gas Station/Gift Shop

  1. Should the taxpayers wash her windows and sweep the floor too? Unreal. Apparently, this store hasn’t made enough money to cover what might otherwise be categorized as an ordinary maintenance expense for any other retail shopkeeper. This was a sweetheart deal from Day 1. The math just to break even was never there and never will be. Teri essentially got a taxpayer-funded retirement plan.

  2. Dianne: It is Historic and a Historic Rte 66 attraction. Historic Rte 66 is the second most visited tourist attraction in Illinois. As a former board member of the Illinois Rte 66 Assn representing McLean County in the 1990’s, I made several contacts with members of both Blm and Normal administrations and Tourism Bureaus in an effort to get both communities to promote Historic Rte 66. My message fell on deaf ears. Promotion consisted of a dozen or so brown Historical route signs. They finally saw the opportunity to promote Historic Rte 66 locally. I am supportive of the actions and investment both communities have taken to support, both the Court House Rte 66 Museum and the Pine Street Station. Was it a good investment? I look only to the success the City of Pontiac has had in attracting Historic Rte 66 tourists. As for the deal Teri, got considering not having to staff the site with City employees (Salary, Benefits & Retirement) over the long haul maybe not so bad a deal for the tax payers of Normal. P. S. Enjoy your Blog. Francis Turgeon, Lexington,Il

    1. I understand that promoting Route 66 might be a personal passion but to insinuate that taxpayer investment, particularly in the case of someone as phoney as Teri Ryburn (yes I have met her and been in the room with her on more than a few occasions) is a stretch. You know as I do there is no paper or accurate research to document how often Route 66 is visited and what Route 66 tourists add to the Illinois economy. A majority of “visitors” are estimated to be foreigners born in the fifties and sixties (again, no real numbers) that are fascinated by Route 66 because of an old TV show. Route 66 as an attraction is not like Disney World, quit making it sound like it is. For the investments put into this “tourism opportunity” (words I heard a lot) and the return on that investment is suspect. The display at the Historical Museum was grossly overpriced and only served as a place for former government employees to land to make more money after retirement that were friends of Chris Koos. The displays outside of Towanda and the off-road signs in Lexington are a nice effort but hardly something that can be considered a viable tourist attraction. My experiences with Ryburn that she was the typical academic, long on wind and short on substance. Her writings were nothing but regurgitated garbage taken from other sources. To deny that she has buffaloed a lot of people is an understatement. She knew what she was doing from day one and Teri was her number one concern. I don’t really want to be mean with this assessment because I know some people out there are passionate about the Mother Road as they say but taxpayers have been taken on a wild “ride” on this one in order to take care of someone’s buddy.

      1. Great post Peabody. You nailed it. Now sit back and wait for Julie Hile to present her historic preservation plan for Normandy Village to the Normal Town Council. Gee, I wonder who that will benefit?

    2. Absolutely not, Francis. To me, this is the most glaring example of wasteful spending this Town has demonstrated in all my years paying attention. It is absolutely disgusting.

  3. HOW in the heck can this “Pig with lipstick” EVER even come close to making all this back?? Why don’t upTOWN buy the Grand Canyon and see HOW MANY dollar bills it takes to fill it?? BUILD IT AND THEY WILL STOP?? MAYBE they should outfit it with the old time glass gas pumps also, and maybe a 55 ford filling up!! Maybe a lightning rod of C. Koos on the roof… This is BEYOND stupidity!!

  4. To compare the McLean County Museum of History to the Pine St. gas station is ludicrous and negates any other comments made by this contributor. It is akin to comparing State Farm to Bentown Elsie’s.

  5. I live in Arizona but I am going to fly to Chicago and drive route 66 as I did with my family in 1960 when I was 16. So looking forward to it.

  6. Last year I was looking for an another route 66 T-shirt or Sweatshirt to add to those I have. I thought i would get one that said “Spragues” on it would be a nice historic souvenir. Every T-shirt and Sweatshirt at Ryburn’s had “Ryburn’s” on it, none had “Spragues” on it. The service station operated as Spragues not Ryburn’s. I want a shirt that honors a historic business that was actually on Route 66. She could have both Spragues and Ryburns shirts as some people may desire Ryburns. But for real Route 66 enthusiasts, I want replica’s to replicate history.

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