By Jim Hinckley
In January of 2016, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, Inc. took a decisive step toward becoming the leader in historic district and Route 66 corridor revitalization with a fund raising dinner and program that served as the kick off for their ambitious neon sign and facade restoration initiative.
Even though there has been little fanfare or publicity, the association membership has grown steadily as has the collection of historic neon signage assembled for restoration. In partnership with Legacy Signs, and various property owners as well as the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, signs for Desert Drug, Brandin’ Iron Motel, the unincorporated community of El Trovatore, a sign that dates to the 1930’s, the Hotel Beale Cafe and other forgotten business will again soon be casting a multi colored hue on Route 66.
The most recent addition to the Route 66 corridor in Kingman, and perhaps the most exciting, is a towering Packard sign emblazoned with the moribund company’s motto, “Ask The Man Who Owns One.” Dating to about 1930, the sign has been in storage since World War II.
Last week, after restoration of the neon tubing and electrical components, the sign was hung on the front of the recently painted Old Trails Garage. This was the third and final location for a Packard facility in Kingman.
The next step in transforming the block will be completion of the garage facade with the addition of painted automotive logos that mimic the 1940’s appearance of the facility. The garage itself dates to at least 1916.
This facade renovation will compliment the recent renovation of the former showroom that now houses Garabaldi’s. Also on the slate is restoration of the neighboring Hotel Brunswick signage.
To date the renaissance of the historic business district in Kingman has centered on Beale Street, one block north of the Route 66 corridor. Microbreweries, event centers, restaurants, and other venues have transformed the district into a destination.
The Route 66 corridor in the historic city core, however, has languished, with the exception of the corner of First Street. The Packard sign, and Garabaldi’s could be the beginning of a new era.
On October 19, at Beale Celebrations, Promote Kingman will be hosting their first event. As a primary goal of Promote Kingman is community development, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Route 66 Association of Kingman.