Are you a Route 66 enthusiast? If so, you might want to stop at the Mahan Filling Station. This former gas station, thought to be one of the earliest dating back to around 1917, has returned to its roots. Built by Butler Manufacturing in Springfield, Illinois, today the station sits on the property of Fulgenzi’s Pizza and Pasta. Jeff Fulgenzi purchased the station which had been part of the late Bill Shea Sr’s museum.
After Shea passed away in 2013, the museum contents which featured automobile service station memorabilia was auctioned off in 2015. Fulgenzi’s sits near the Illinois State Fair Grounds and has its own story. According to Illinois 66 history, “Fulgenzi’s restaurant property itself was once the site of two Route 66 motels and a car painting business in the heyday of the road. Fulgenzi’s opened their original family restaurant in 1979 as a “Custard Castle”, which has become a regular stop for 66 travelers.”
Mahan station was located along Route 136 halfway between Easton and Havana at Knuppell’s Corner. John Mahan said his father purchased the station and moved it to the town of Middletown before World War II. He ran it as a Philips 66 Station until he went into the Army. Before the gas station was moved in Middleton, it sat on the corner of 105 Fifth St. After being located there for 60 years, it made the move to Springfield where it became a main attraction at Bill Shea’s Gas Station Museum. Jeff Fulgenzi mentioned that the late Tim Landis of the Springfield Journal Register referred to it as “The centerpiece of the Shea museum.”
The Fulgenzi’s and those that love Route 66 landmarks will soon be celebrating the one year anniversary because the filling station arrived at its new home on Fulgenzi’s lot on Sunday, January 24, 2016. “I just want to invite people to stop and see it,” Jeff Fulgenzi said. “The site was once the Fairway Motel. A lot of people came to that to stay for the fairgrounds.”
With history in mind, Jeff Fulgenzi was on a mission to ensure that the station remain a viable place that the public could enjoy . “I recognized for years having lived on the north end (of Springfield) and along this Route 66 corridor that we witnessed travelers visiting route 66. I didn’t want to see the Mahan station lose its presences on Route 66. Thankfully we were able to save it and welcome visitors from all over the world and save a bit of our history.”
Jeff Fulgenzi added, “Route 66 is a bucket list item for travelers international as well and this is a great photo stop. I enjoy seeing the book (inside Fulgenzi’s at the register) and visitors sign in from all over the world.”
Jeff and others hoping to preserve Route 66 history are creating a not for profit with the goal of creating a regional Route 66 museum/welcome center. For anyone wanting to donate to this regional museum or to find out more information about the non-profit, contact Jeff Fulgenzi at 217-741-3905.
To see Mahan Station, it is located at 1168 Sangamon Avenue beside Fulgenzi’s.