Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas – Not Just an Ordinary Street

Route 6 SignOn a recent trip to Amarillo, we had a chance to walk and drive up and down part of 6th Avenue Historic District, aka Route 66. It was a little cold in February of 2015, but we still had a nice time. As I said in another blog post, Amarillo by Morning, I was amazed at all the antique shops and stores. It definitely makes up the feel of the town. I really liked it.

Here is some basic information on how Route 66 Historic District came to be:

Route 66 - Image 1

Route 66 originally crossed from New Mexico into Texas at Glenrio, an unincorporated community founded in 1903 as a Rock Island Railroad siding. During Route 66’s heyday, Glenrio’s cafés, filling stations, and businesses such as the First/Last Motel in Texas served travelers on the highway. That was until the road was bypassed in 1973, then Glenrio became a ghost town.

Today, Amarillo is the only major city on the Texas portion of US 66; its 6th Street Historic District includes a dozen buildings incorporating elements of Spanish Revival, Art Deco, and Art Moderne design including homes, service stations, a historic fire hall, and a church. Along an east-west axis through a grid system of streets between Georgia and Forrest Avenues, U.S. Route 66-Sixth Street Historic District comprises 13 blocks of commercial development in the San Jacinto Heights Addition west of Amarillo’s central business district. It is also a hub for nightlife and shopping, and the surrounding San Jacinto neighborhood remains a vibrant center of activity. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Below are a few of the buildings and businesses that have created the unique feeling that is the Route 66 Historic District.

Route 66 Map

The Natatorium (The Nat Ballroom). – Converted into a dance hall in 1926, guests boogied to the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Buddy Holly, and Roy Orbison. This historic landmark is now an antique mall after being converted again in the 1960s.

Bussey Buildings. The Bussey Buildings are located at 2713-2727 West Sixth and were the first major commercial buildings in the district. Built-in the late 1920s, the modest strip of commercial buildings consists of four storefronts with large glass display windows and dark brick with limestone detailing. The building’s most famous occupant was the San Jacinto Beauty School, which received Texas’ first beauty license. The beauty school occupied the store from 1941 to 1964.

Cazzell Buildings. The Cazzell Buildings are located across the street from each other at 2806 and 2801 West Sixth. W.E. Cazzell purchased the one-story brick building at 2806 West Sixth in 1918 and operated a general store and post office. When he sold the building in 1922, he commissioned a new two-story one across the street.

Borden’s Heap-O-Cream. Borden’s Heap-O-Cream at 3120 West Sixth is a one-story frame building with Art Moderne detailing such as oval plate glass windows, 3-lite wood double doors, and a rounded metal awning on front and sides. Preservation Amarillo and the San Jacinto Boy Scout Troop rehabilitated the building in 1990. The grandson of the original sign painter provided plans to aid in replication of color, dimension, and style.

Route 66 Sign 2

Adkinson-Baker Tire Company. The Adkinson-Baker Tire Company is located at 3200 West Sixth. This service station was built in 1939 and is fronted by a projecting canopy over the pump island. The station originally housed the Adkinson-Baker Tire Co.#2 and exclusively sold Texaco gas. It was sold in 1945 and became the Theo A. Bippus Service Station. The Adkinson Baker Tire Company is one of three extant historic stations in the district and has been virtually unchanged since it opened in 1939.

Carolina Building. A fine example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, the Caroline Building at 3313-23 West Sixth is divided by brick piers into eight, glass storefronts. Built-in 1926, it is one of the earliest examples of strip commercial buildings in Amarillo. Original occupants included an auto paint firm, a barbershop, a beauty shop, and a drug store.  The red tile pent roof runs the length of the building and shades the store entrances and display windows. The parapet features cast concrete coping broken by several gables.

Dutch Mill Service Station and Café. The Dutch Mill Service Station and Café have been in operation since 1932 at 3401 West Sixth. This seemingly plain-looking building may fool visitors, but it has just as much character as some of the flashier places. The stuccoed walls are pierced by a glass-paneled door, plate glass windows, and a roll-down garage door. Ornamental crenellations grace the building, which originally featured a large Dutch windmill at its curbside to attract passing motorists. Until the 1950’s this building housed both the service station and the café, which later expanded into the larger building at 3403 West Sixth.

Taylor’s Texaco Station. Taylor’s Texaco Station is located at 3512 West Sixth. Built using the standard Texaco design developed by Walter D. Teague in 1937, this one-story station clad in white porcelain has a projecting canopy over the pump island and also houses an office, two service bays, and restrooms.  One of the first standardized gas station designs, the basic formula, and red star motif provided instant recognition for the motorist in search of Texaco products.

Route 66 Gas Station

Martin’s Phillips 66 Station. Martin’s Phillips 66 Station at 3821 West Sixth operated from the 1930s to the 1990s. The earliest facility at this site included the corporation’s standard-issue Tudor Revival-style cottage, designed to blend in with a residential neighborhood. The building survived on the site until after the construction of the current facility in 1963. Designed to catch the eye, its replacement exhibits exaggerated modernistic features including an office with canted plate glass walls, angled service bay entrances, and a soaring triangular canopy over the pump island. Herb Martin operated the station through all the changes in styles and marketing. Martin assisted many Route 66 travelers during the 1930s, giving gas to some and allowing those without money for lodging to spend the night at the station.

Hubbell Duplex. Prominent local architect Guy Carlander designed the Hubbell Duplex at 3912 West Sixth in 1925 for Mr. and Mrs. Hubbell, who owned Hubbell Diamond T Truck Company. At the western end of one of Amarillo’s busiest streets, the house typifies the modest housing built during the city’s boom years. The dark brown brick dwelling features typical Craftsman details such as battered brick piers supporting the twin entry porticoes. The duplex remains virtually unchanged since its construction.

San Jacinto Fire Station. Located at 610 South Georgia, the San Jacinto Fire Station was built in 1926 to serve the rapidly growing population of the San Jacinto area. The one-story brick building was designed in Mission Revival style with a red tile roof, battered walls, and curvilinear parapets. The station served the neighborhood until 1975 and is the only surviving pre-World War II fire station in Amarillo.

San Jacinto Methodist Church. Constructed in 1926, the San Jacinto Methodist Church is located at 505 South Tennessee. The church is a two-story, dark brown brick building with a pedimented entryway supported by square brick pilasters with a double limestone stringcourse below the cornice. The double entry doors sit below an arched stained glass transom. When Sixth Street was widened in 1924, the church lost its original entry stairway. The original concrete steps lead to Sixth Street and were flanked by a broad balustrade capped in cast stone. Today, the main entrance is on South Tennessee and flanked with pipe railings.  The south façade of the church features four sets of paired wooden double-hung, narrow stained glass windows, with two pairs of the same windows lighting the east and west sides of the entry. A large two-story brick building was added in the rear that houses the present sanctuary and educational facilities.

Route 66 - Image 2Hope you enjoyed reading about Amarillo’s Historic 6th Street. We had a great time exploring this historical little street and city. Some of this information included is mine, some are from, and some are a collaboration of both. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


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