VICTORVILLE — A BNSF prepare rumbled via the town whereas, on the south aspect of D Avenue, a homeless lady peered via a window of the quickly shuttered California Route 66 Museum in Previous City.
The 25-year-old museum, which homes memorabilia from the “Important Avenue of America,” in addition to books, data and navy gear that doc this county’s previous, has sustained harm on a number of events whereas closed through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sue Bridges stated.
Because the museum’s director, Bridges has taken on the duty of stopping by the favored vacationer vacation spot 3 times per week to “be certain that no person has vandalized the place.”
“We already had home windows damaged, and I’ve seen the homeless residing in our gated space behind the museum,” Bridges stated in a Friday interview. “The Sheriff’s Division advised us they’d step up patrol across the museum.”
Unwelcome visitors and damaged home windows are probably the least of the museum’s current troubles, although.
‘The longer term … doesn’t look good’
Bridges stated the Victorville landmark is sort of out of cash and “in peril of closing” completely after journey bans and different restrictions designed to gradual the novel coronavirus’ unfold additionally prevented worldwide visitors and locals from visiting.
“The way forward for our museum doesn’t look good,” Bridges stated. “After the state pressured us to shut in mid-March, our museum reopened on June 5. However then, after three weeks, we needed to shut once more on July 3.”
On March 19, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all California residents to remain house besides to make important errands or for work. He additionally ordered the closing of all non-essential companies and organizations, together with museums.
The state’s companies slowly began to come back again to life in Might, a mushy reemergence that included the reopening of some out of doors and indoor museums. In June, the state order on museum closures was lastly lifted.
However after cities throughout California reported spikes in COVID-19 instances and hospitalizations, Newsom ordered a three-week restriction for sure companies in 19 nations hit hardest by the virus, together with San Bernardino County.
The second spherical of closures started July 1. The Victorville museum once more went darkish.
Bridges stated she doesn’t know the way any enterprise or group can survive underneath such circumstances.
In regular, pandemic-less spring and summer season seasons, the museum takes in a month-to-month common of $13,000 to $15,000 from “hundreds of vacationers,” Bridges stated.
However throughout its three weeks of operation earlier than the second shutdown, the nonprofit institution welcomed only a handful of holiday makers, yielding a paltry $1,200.
“It takes about $2,200 a month to pay the price of our mortgage, utilities and insurance coverage,” Bridges stated. “We additionally pay about $2,300 a month for 2 cashiers, a present store supervisor and a director’s place.”
Bridges stated there’s roughly $2,200 left within the museum’s financial savings account. Employees has spent about $3,000 of a $35,000 mortgage the museum took out via the Small Enterprise Affiliation.
“We’ve got to pay the mortgage again, so we’re attempting to not spend any extra of that cash,” Bridges stated. “I can see utilizing extra of the mortgage if we knew for sure that our worldwide vacationers would return, however no person is aware of the way forward for tourism or our museum.”
Route 66: ‘Magic’ versus actuality
Due to the excessive variety of COVID-19 instances stateside — the U.S. leads the world with properly over 3.2 million — international visits to this nation are anticipated to plummet by greater than 69%, which equates to billions in misplaced income, Forbes reported.
Earlier than 2020, the museum — house to native and nationwide artifacts and oddities, in addition to educated staffers and volunteers — entertained annual visitors from South and North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and past, Bridges stated.
The in any other case unlikely vacationers arrived for a glimpse into America’s not-so-distant previous, which was outlined by those that “motored west,” in addition to the bygone generations that got here earlier than and after it.
Contained in the museum, guests have been handled to the primary Route 66 “Finish of the Trails” sales space as soon as utilized in Santa Monica, a 1917 Mannequin-T Ford, a 1950s diner part and photo-ops in a 1960s-era Volkswagen “Love Bus,” amongst different points of interest.
In Previous City, although, the vacationers descended on a long-suffering part of Victorville that has largely gone uncared for and performed sufferer to a number of failed revitalization efforts.
Rows of storefronts on close by Seventh Avenue sit vacant. Others go up in literal flames, are red-tagged by the town and ultimately demolished. Murals bake and fade underneath the relentless desert solar. The riverbed simply north of the museum, past E Avenue and the railroad tracks, typically serves as a homeless encampment that’s no stranger to graffiti, trash, purchasing carts and the occasional vehicle-cum-shelter.
However nonetheless they’d come, looking for slices of Americana that, seemingly, are actually solely obtainable in show instances.
In 2016, European driver Oisteim Kjensli advised the Every day Press that 20 vehicles have been shipped to the U.S. from Scandinavia to participate within the eight-week “Route 66 90th Anniversary Tour of America.”
“There’s a magic about Route 66 that pulls individuals from all around the world, together with our group of 58 from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden,” Kjensli stated on the time. “And driving a basic automobile on the pavement of the Mom Highway is a dream come true.”
The museum can also be standard for its annual automobile present and pageant, which has attracted hundreds of basic automobile fanatics from throughout the nation and the world.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of our museum, and that’s not flowing anymore,” Bridges stated.
A doable plan
At 6 p.m. Monday, Don Holland plans to talk to the museum board about “a solution to save” the favored vacation spot, based on Bridges.
Holland, who additionally works as particular assistant to San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, advised the Every day Press the assembly won’t be hosted by the county.
Requested by e mail for a abstract of the plan, Holland stated, “We’ll know extra after the assembly.”
Bridges stated she will’t bear the considered promoting or auctioning off the museum’s gadgets or having them shops away in containers.
Nonetheless an attraction
Constructed within the 1930s, the 4,500-square-foot constructing that homes the museum was first the Crimson Rooster Cafe. Later it was the “Les Pyrenees” restaurant. The constructing is acknowledged by the Hampton Lodges Save-A-Landmark program.
The constructing may be seen briefly in 1980’s “The Jazz Singer,” starring Neil Diamond. Within the scene, Victorville stands in for Laredo, Texas.
In 2011, the museum and a number of other historic vehicles served as a backdrop for a section of the Historical past Channel’s particular, “101 Objects That Made America Nice.”
On Friday, whereas sitting in a Dodge van close to D Avenue, Robert and Kathy Nelson, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, took photos of the museum, drank bottles of Weight loss program Coke and chatted about their subsequent cease.
The Nelsons, who’ve traveled a lot of Route 66, stated they’ve visited the Victorville museum many instances because it first opened in 1995.
“We attended my cousin’s wedding ceremony in Lengthy Seaside and we’re heading to Las Vegas for the weekend earlier than heading house,” Kathy Nelson stated. “We determined to cease by the museum, hoping that it could be open.”
The California Route 66 Museum is situated at 16825 D Avenue in Victorville. For extra info, e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.CalifRt66Museum.org.
Rene Ray De La Cruz could also be reached at 760-951-6227, or by e mail at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com. Comply with him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.