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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Normal in McLean County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

A Station and a Home

Sprague's Super Service

 
 
A Station and a Home Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
1. A Station and a Home Marker
Inscription.  Opened in 1930 by William Sprague, this is the only two-story Tudor Revival service station on Route 66. Although the station was built in the depth of the Great Depression, Sprague knew that travelers still needed food, gas, and car repairs. He built his station to blend with the neighborhood, appearing more like a large house than a business. The owners, attendants, and their families lived upstairs.

A Family Business

Sprague's Super Service was a family business. The first floor offered a Cities Service (later called Citgo) gas station, restaurant, and repair garage.

But Sprague's was more than just a business. It was a home for the owners, attendants, and their families. By the 1950s, "mom and pop" establishments declined as corporate chains took over the market.

Tenth Time's the Charm…

In 1940, Walter Bittner was smitten with Irene, a pretty elevator operator who worked at a bank. Walter made excuses to visit the bank just so he could ride the elevator. Finally he got the nerve to ask her out. He asked nine times before she finally accepted a lunch
A Station and a Home Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
2. A Station and a Home Marker
Outside the restored Sprague's Super Service station, and next to the Route 66 Experience Hub.
invitation at the Triangle Café (as Sprague's restaurant was called then). They married on May 17, 1941.

Many Uses

William Sprague constructed this building well. Over the years, it has housed a welding shop, taxi company, rental car business, cake bakery, bridal shop, and catering company.

Preserving Sprague's Legacy

In 2006, Sprague's was purchased by Dr. Terri Ryburn, who, with her husband Bill Sanders, has restored its 1930 appearance. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been inducted into the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame.
 
Erected by Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the U.S. Route 66 🛣️ series list.
 
Location. 40° 31.057′ N, 88° 58.826′ W. Marker is in Normal, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker is at the intersection of Pine Street and North Walnut Street, on the right when traveling east on Pine Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 308 Pine St, Normal IL 61761, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Normal, Illinois (here, next to this marker); Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School
Sprague's Super Service NRHP plaque image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 29, 2020
3. Sprague's Super Service NRHP plaque
(approx. 0.3 miles away); Highland Historic District (approx. 1.3 miles away); Historic Camelback Bridge (approx. 1.3 miles away); Cedar Crest Historic District (approx. 1½ miles away); Van Leer's Broadview Mansion Bell (approx. 1½ miles away); Home of Joseph W. Fifer (approx. 2.2 miles away); Florence Fifer Bohrer (approx. 2.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Normal.
 
Regarding A Station and a Home. Walter Bittner (1917-2015; mentioned on the marker) once served as the Mayor of Bloomington in the 1970s and as a member of city council. His wife, Irene, passed away in 2011.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 21, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 38 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on December 21, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.   2. submitted on October 18, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.   3. submitted on December 21, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.
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Feb. 25, 2021