William O. Luton, Jr.

The History of Route 66 and The Coral Court

		"The Coral Court is the not only a stunning example of 
	architecture worthy of preservation but for generations of 
	travelers, it remains a bastion of hospitality that has evolved 
	into a venerable Route 66 icon.
		Those of us who value Coral Court remember all the cars 
	filled with weary souls cruising by gleaming tile walls.  We see 
	shadowy shapes behind glass block windows and a big lighted sign 
	acting as a beacon for so many.  We hear the laughter of the 
	children playing beneath the shade trees.
		Tourists, salesmen, honeymooners, and road warriors of 
	every description found refuge at the Coral Court.  Just after 
	the motor court opened in 1941, young men going off to war stayed 
	there with wives and sweethearts.  Some of those GIs never returned.  
	There are women whose hair has grown gray that recall every detail 
	of that last night spent with their young man - wrapped in each 
	others arms with only the sound of passing traffic on the Mother 
	Road to serenade them.  
		To all of those people and for so many, many more, Coral 
	Court is a special place - an extra special place."
					Michael Wallis
					Author of Route 77: The Mother Road1

	The Coral Court motor court stood in South St. Louis County on 
Route 66, at 7755 Watson Road, as the finest existing example of a 
Streamline Modern motor court, indeed it stood as a three dimensional 
representational definition of what the Streamline Modern Art Decor style 
of architecture was.

	But the story of Coral Court is more than the sad tale of the 
birth and death of an apex of a commercial architecture typography and an 
area landmark, it is also the story that parallels the birth and death of 
Americas Main Street and this countrys evolution away from the unique and 
exciting, toward the common and mundane.

	This story begins with the story of the road itself.  As early as 
1800, Americans brought the need for good roads to the attention of their 
government, but the railroads quelled that need temporarily.  During the 
Civil War, many campaigns were won and lost based on the speed of an 
armys travel between battles.  In 1867, after the close of the war, the 
popularity of the bicycle brought the issue of roads to the forefront, 
and on a small scale, organizations like the American Wheelmen were able 
to successfully lobby for road improvements around the Eastern cities.

	In 1893, manufacturers began mass producing and selling 
automobiles in this country.  A very expensive novelty at first, the 
convenience and efficiency of the automobile over the horse and buggy or 
wagon soon made it an accepted mode of transportation.  The element of 
freedom or direction and time schedule made automobiles more popular than 
trains.  Motorists could drive their horseless carriage anywhere they 
wished at any time they wished.

	The single greatest problem that early motorists encountered was 
impassable roads.  Road technology was still based on following the well 
worn path and praying that mud holes were not too deep.  It wasnt until 
1909 that Portland Cement was introduced and it became possible to lay 
concrete slabs to drive upon.  However, the excessive cost of this 
pavement kept it from being widely used in its first decade and it could 
only be found in the downtown areas of larger cities.  The best a cross 
country motorist could hope for was gravel, and even this was relatively 

	The Office of Public Road Inquiry, which later became the Bureau 
of Public Roads, was opened under the Department of Agriculture in the 
1890s, but its primary focus was the study of the roads problem, and it 
took little action.  Its concerns were mail delivery, produce delivery, 
and educational transportation, not cross country travel.

	In the absence of help from the federal government, state and 
local governments took on the issue of improving the roads by creating 
"trails" and trail associations.  These loosely knit groups usually 
consisted of business men and farmers, with the help of local officials, 
who would designate, improve and maintain a roadway in a section of the 
country.  This roadway was usually chosen by the group as important and 
economically vital to the group.  The groups would mark the trails as 
they were economically able to, with markings which usually consisted of 
combinations of various colors of stripes on some of the fence posts that 
lined the side of the trail.  Because these associations were not 
organized on a national scale, each group designated their trail in their 
own best interest.  Trails often overlapped each other, split in two 
different directions, or just ended nowhere near the beginning of another 
trail.  Maps were distributed as business advertisements for businesses 
along the trail and purposefully excluded other trails.  Motorists were 
left frustrated and often lost.

	In 1915, S. H. "Coin" Harvey, of Monte NE, Arkansas, organized 
the Ozark Trails Association to encourage the improvement of roads in the 
Midwest through the Southeast.  The public fell in behind the Ozark 
Trails Association, and many roads were quickly improved using volunteer 
help.  In 1919, at the annual meeting of the Association, long time road 
advocate and businessman, Cy Avery, was elected as vice-president of the 
Association.  Avery was from Oklahoma, a new state which desperately 
needed better roads, and he quickly became the driving force behind the 
Association for rallying the support of the public and government 
officials, and developing better road grading methods.  In 1923, Avery 
was appointed to be a State Highway Commissioner of Oklahoma, and in 
1924, he was appointed to the American Association of State Highway 

	Also, in 1915, the federal government was coming under pressure 
from the States and the public, to use federal money to improve the 
roads.  This led to the Federal Highway Aid Road Act of 1916, which 
allotted matching federal funds of $75 million to improve important rural 
roads.  This was followed by the Federal Highway Act of 1921, which 
allotted another $75 million, for the improvement and maintenance of 
seven percent of rural roads into main connecting roads.  But neither of 
these laws had any real positive affect and they remained just what they 
were, political moves.  The road improvement effort remained squarely on 
the shoulders of the trails associations.

	In 1924, the American Association of State Highway Officials 
petitioned the Secretary of Agriculture for the federal government to 
take the responsibility for the building and maintenance of main 
interstate routes from the trails associations, and called for the 
creation of a system of interconnecting roads of national significance.

	In 1925, this suggestion was approved by the secretary, and the 
American Association of State Highway Officials held regional meetings 
where state, local and representatives of the over 250 trails 
associations lobbied for the inclusion of their particular roads of 
interest into the federal road system.  The result was the approval of 
75,884 miles of road to be improved, paved and marked.

	Cy Avery played a prominent role in this process and was on the 
executive committee for the overall approval of the plan, as well as the 
executive committee for the designation of roads in the Mississippi 
Valley.  Avery, with the support of the officials of Illinois and 
Missouri, outlined a road that would connect the Midwest and the West 
Coast, by slicing diagonally from Illinois to Oklahoma, and then 
proceeding west to California.  Opponents quickly pointed out that this 
plan most greatly benefited Averys interest, by creating an east-west 
route which passed through Averys home city of Tulsa.  The road followed 
no historic route, traveling south of the Santa Fe Trail and north of the 
Butterfield Stage route, through the middle of the former Indian 
Territory, an area that the public, and even Oklahomans, saw as 
unimportant.  The road did not even conform to the north-south and 
east-west pattern of roads that the committees had already approved.  
Avery and the committee went forward with their road from Chicago to Los 
Angeles, and named it Route 60, which had already been agreed upon for 
the Newport News, Virginia to Los Angeles route.  Avery and the committee 
eventually agreed upon Route 66 as the designation for their road and it 
was opened in 1926.

	Now began the long process of improving and paving the road, 
which was expected to take only a few years, but the work involved was 
much more difficult and costly than expected.  Illinois and California 
had more financial resources to work with, and had their sections paved 
first.  Indeed, much of their sections were paved even before the Route 
was designated.  The interior states had a much more difficult time.  The 
roadway was paved eighteen feet wide to make the most of the limited 
funds.  A few feet wider and they wouldnt have been able to afford as 
much road.  Finally, in 1937, the last section of Route 66 was paved in 
Arizona, and at long last, America had a safe, dependable, year round 
road that linked the East and West.

	But motorists didnt wait for the pavement.  They were touring the 
country in record numbers even before the federal government established 
the highways.  Motorcars had steadily gained popularity with the general 
public, and Americans were re-embracing the former frontier spirit of 
adventure.  As early as 1903, motorists were making transcontinental 
journeys and newspapers and journals were publicizing and romanticizing 
these adventures.  The popularity of auto touring skyrocketed.  Cross 
country travel became a popular pastime for the well to do.  Motorists in 
those days had to be good mechanics as well as good drivers.  The need 
for repairs were common and early automobiles lack of an enclosed 
passenger compartment, or even a full windshield, left travelers covered 
with dirt, dust, grease and bugs.  At the end of a long day of travel, 
motorists couldnt imagine walking through the plush lobby of a hotel to 
find lodging for the night.  Hotels of that day catered to train and 
stage travelers, not auto adventurers, and certainly not those covered 
with road grime.  Overnight accommodations were simply not available for 
motorists, and the plush hotels did not fit their frontier adventure 
motif anyway.  Early motorists found auto camping to be the logical 
solution for those seeking to get closer to nature.  Early motorists 
would pack all that they needed to cook, sleep and live and take it with 
them, pulling over to throw up a tent and build a fire wherever they 
wished.  This became known as "gypsying", and the inherent freedom 
further popularized auto travel as a pastime.  Auto makers and 
businessmen even sought to profit from the enthusiast by offering 
vehicles and conversions tailored specifically for auto camping, which 
incorporated all an adventurer needed into a tight package resembling a 
modern camper or mobile home.

	The farmers and land owners who lived along the roads, however, 
were not nearly as enthusiastic of this camping as the motorists were.  
These land owners saw only the disruption of their property that the 
campers caused.  "No Camping" signs became common along the roadsides, 
and local governments passed no camping ordinances.

	Some towns sought to encourage this tourism, while protecting the 
property of the local people, and created municipal free campgrounds.  
Fields of public land were set aside for motorists to camp on.  
Businesses catering to motorists needs, store and gas stations, popped up 
around the camps.  Eventually speculators sought to profit directly from 
the camping motorists and farmers began fencing in their own fields to 
charge motorists to camp in their private camps.  Competition developed 
between the private camps as they became more common, and owners began 
offering amenities to attract customers.  Covered campsites, bath houses, 
and on site stores were just a few of these amenities.  The covered 
campsites soon led to fully enclosed campsites, and the tourist cabin was 
born.  The first cabins were one room shacks with no fixtures and a 
common outhouse/bathhouse that was shared with the outdoor campsites.  
Again competition brought more amenities to attract customers, and beds, 
chairs, and covered carports were added.  As both roads and automobiles 
developed to be more comfortable, so to did motorists expect more 
comfortable accommodations.  Heating stoves allowed for year round 
operation of the cabins.  Indoor plumbing and bathrooms were later added 
to further entice customers.

	Amenities were not the only way to attract customers.  
Businessmen began to understand that the outward appearance, especially 
the appearance from the road where their customers were, was just as 
important.  Tourist cabins began to be embellished with decorations and 
motifs were developed for the overall themes of these camps.  Owners 
wanted passing motorists to see little utopias of immaculately 
maintained, carefully organized cottage courts, places where motorists 
would want to stay, and would want to return to.  Novelty became equally 
as important as businessmen began expressing their cabins as Danish 
villages, log cabins, Indian and Spanish missions, and other vernacular 
expressions such as wigwams and tee-pees.  Businesses began to use the 
exterior appearance of their building as both a selling point and as 
advertising.  "Modern" became a buzz word in the industry and modern 
appearance became vital, as each motor court tried to out do the next.

	This was the business climate that John Carr planned to enter 
when he planned his motor court in St. Louis County.  South St. Louis 
County was one full-days drive from the beginning of Route 66 in Chicago, 
and was a logical first-night-stop for travelers on the Mother Road.  
Carr had chosen the perfect place for his motor court, one mile west of 
the St. Louis City limits, in what would soon become the Village of 
Marlborough.  It was an ideal stopover for weary travelers who didnt want 
to deal with the hectic atmosphere of the downtown and was a good 
starting point for the second days journey through the Ozarks.  Carr 
acquired 8.73 acres at 7755 Watson Road (Route 66).  This land comprised 
9 undeveloped residential lots of the Marlborough Manor Subdivision.  Six 
of the deeds had restrictions against the lands use for tourist cabins, 
but the remaining 23 had no such restrictions.

	Car selected Adolph L. Struebig, a local architect of German 
descent, to design his tourist court.  Struebig had worked for the firm 
of Nolte and Nauman before he moved to House Springs in neighboring 
Jefferson County, and opened his own practice in the St. Louis area.  
Struebig later moved to Illinois and eventually retired to Satellite 
Beach, Florida. 

	Struebig later described his design process as follows:

		"Money was no object.  Johnie was willing to go the limit.  
	I used to take my sketch board and wed sit on Highway 66 and I'd 
	show him what I proposed to do.  I'd show him where the trees would 
	go and how the shadows would fall.  I just tried to please him and 
	go all out because I knew he wanted something unique." 2

	Struebigs creation was indeed unique.  It fulfilled Carrs 
requirements for a group of stand out buildings that would advertise 
themselves and stood as one of the best examples of high Depression Era 
Streamline Modern architectural style.

	The original court consisted of ten, single story, two unit 
buildings, carefully arranged on the site, with a larger office unit 
closest to Watson Road.  The cabins themselves consisted of two rooms at 
each end of the building, with a pair of garages in between to keep the 
automobiles from cluttering the court.

	The architectural expression of the office and cabins was ultra 
modern, with flat roofs, curved corners, and a smooth, planar finish.  
Architex glazed ceramic tile was veneered over the concrete block walls 
for ease of cleaning and an enhanced smooth effect.  The primary tile 
color was golden-honey (coral) with three horizontal courses of 
reddish-brown tile at the tops of the windows and at the top of the 
parapet wall to accent the horizontally of the buildings which were 
longer than they were deed.

	Some of the windows were conventional three part louvered, but 
the majority of the glazing was made up of glass block, which was used in 
the streamlined ends of the buildings as well as the semi-circular 
projections at the front, near the garages.  This glass block was used in 
a similar fashion as translucent bay windows, with large areas of block 
stepping up or down to the left or right, or toward the center. 

	There were two basic plans for the paired units, the single room, 
and the single room with the additional Murphy bed.  These types were 
similar but just different enough to offer variety within the court.  
This variety was further enhanced by the variations in the glass block 
patterns and in the horizontal banding.  The overall composition appeared 
to be a combination of several related design studies which went together 
very well and composed a harmony among themselves.  Elsey Hamilton 
describes the overall effect as:

		"The syncopated rhythm created by the repetition of unequal 
	curves is given further complexity by the irregular placement of the 
	two-room units on the site, as well as the slight variations in the 
	unit plans and the patterning of the glass brick."  3

	Each cabin was adorned with its own Art Decor lettered, brushed 
aluminum number, framed in reddish-brown tile.  Over each garage were a 
pair or trio of glass blocks covered lights whose placement mimicked the 
headlights of an automobile.

	The office building was a larger building, both longer and 
taller, with larger bays and a metal canopy covering its entry.  This 
building contained both the business office and the on site housing of 
the management and had a basement garage for two cars.  The office 
originally had a tower which was banded horizontal tile courses and 
capped with a beacon light to attract motorists.

	The landscaping of the Court was beautifully done and 
immaculately kept by Carr.  Buff colored stone posts connected with heavy 
black chain lined the edge of the site toward Route 66, and large turning 
stone gateways marked the entrances to the drives on the property.  The 
driveways were of blacktop which was resealed annually to keep the 
pavement appearing freshly painted.  The lawn was planted in thick, lush, 
well trimmed zoysia grass and pin oak trees were interspersed between the 
cabins.  The effect of the colors, the black of the drive, the green of 
the grass, the golden-yellow of the cabins with its reddish-brown 
accents, and the blue of the sky, with the shadows of the trees dancing 
on the tile and lawn had a very surreal and relaxing effect.

	But the Coral Court was not just a pretty face.  It offered 
amenities that were not available at other motor courts.  The garages, 
not uncommon among area courts, had remotely controlled doors, allowing 
the motorist to pull straight into them.  This feature offered privacy, 
safety, security, and protection from the elements, but the seemingly 
excessive privacy later led to distrust among the local public and the 
perception that the patrons had something to hide or be ashamed of.

	Each room had its own private bathroom with hot and cold running 
water and a shower, no group public bath or out house like other courts.  
Each room also featured hot water radiant heating systems, with hot water 
heating coils run in the floor slab of each room.  Patrons had no need to 
fear stepping onto a cold floor after a restful nights sleep, and that 
restful nights sleep was enhanced by the Courts use of Beauty rest 
mattresses and box springs.

	The original units were constructed at a cost of $7,000, and were 
opened in 1942.  Carr soon doubled the number of units and added a 
swimming pool, and later expansions increased the total to 77 rooms, but 
some of the later units did not follow the Streamline Modern originals 
and were of conventional balloon frame with siding construction.

	Rooms were available for overnight accommodations and also for 
four hour rest stops.  Rest areas on highways did not come about until 
the late 1950s with the interstate highways, and these short rest stops 
were certainly appreciated by weary motorists who needed to take a break 
from driving.

	Carr couldnt have picked a better time to open his motor court.  
World War II was in full swing and Route 66 was the nations primary road 
for GIs traveling to and from military bases and for the transportation 
of war products and military machinery.  For many years, a vacancy 
couldnt be found along the highway because demand was so high.

	After the war, carloads of vacationing families filled the Mother 
Road and everyone wanted to see America by automobile.  This was the boom 
time for tourism, and the Court was a popular stop off for families.

	But controversy soon surrounded the Coral Court, and John Carr 
was no stranger to scandal.  Carr reputedly operated a brothel in Midtown 
St. Louis before he opened the Court, and he was friends with several 
area brothel owners.  It was also said that he had deep underworld 
connections and was in "tight" with the Marlborough Police and Village 
officials.  Just before Carr opened the Court, in 1940, J. Edgar Hoover 
called for an investigation of all motor courts, alleging their 
connection with drugs, desperadoes, and declining moral values.  Hoovers 
assertions came to partial fruition in 1953 when Carl Austin Hall 
kidnapped, ransomed, and murdered Bobby Greenlease, the six year old son 
of a prominent Kansas City auto dealer.  Hall fled Kansas City to St. 
Louis, with his accomplice Bonnie Brown Heady.  Hall dropped Heady off at 
a downtown apartment and took a cab and the $600,000 ransom that he had 
already collected, and went looking for a little excitement and a good 
time.  Hall eventually ended up at Coral Court with, depending on the 
source, between one and three ladies of easy virtue, and possibly several 
others, who spent the night there.  Police were led to Hall the next 
morning after Hall made a telephone call from the Court to Heady at the 
downtown apartment.  When police found Hall, he had only half of the 
ransom money left.  Speculations as to the impossibility of spending 
$300,000 in one evening in 1953 led to the rumor that the money had been 
stashed in the hollow block walls of the cabin that Hall was found in.  
Hall refused to tell authorities what had happened to the money and took 
the secret with him to the grave when he was executed in the Missouri gas 

	This incident forever marred the reputation of Coral Court.  The 
public saw the Court as a seedy and unsavory place that was frequented by 
prostitutes and outlaws on-the-lam.  St. Louis  County Police agreed with 
this idea and frequently staked out the Court but were careful not to 
notify Carr or the Marlborough Police.  Many locals even alleged that 
Carr himself operated a prostitution ring out of the Coral Court, but no 
evidence to this has ever been found, although the allegation was only 
reinforced by the general misconception that the four hour stopover was 
thought to imply hourly rates.

	In 1955, John Carrs son by a previous marriage, Bobby Gene Carr, 
cab driver, novelty salesman, and Korean War veteran, was found dead of 
multiple knife and gunshot wounds in Illinois in the trunk of his car.  
Speculations as to John Carrs underworld involvement increased.

	At close to this same time, in 1954, President Dwight D. 
Eisenhower began to push for an autobahn-like highway system for the 
United States.  Eisenhower had become fascinated with the efficient and 
safe German system during World War II and returned home convinced that 
America needed this system for the national security and the general 
safety of the public.  Automobiles had gotten larger and wider since the 
time of the construction of Route 66s nine foot wide lanes, and traffic 
accidents and congestion were beginning to become a problem.  The Mother 
Road became known as "Bloody 66", and tales of particularly treacherous 
areas such as "Devils Elbow" in the Ozarks became infamous for their toll 
of human life.  The Highway Revenue Act of 1956 called for the 
construction of multi-lane highways to bypass or be built over the old 
routes.  This new system would bypass population centers and create safe 
highway speed travel for motorists.  This was the beginning of the end of 
Route 66 and the laid back style of auto touring that the two lane 
highways fostered.  Soon motorists would be flying two abreast down 
monotonously straight, smooth strips of concrete, totally isolated from 
all of the civilization that they were zipping past.  But just as the 
paving of the Mother Road took much longer than expected, the even larger 
scale of the interstate system took even longer to complete, and Route 66 
was allowed a longer, slow, graceful death.  It wasnt until 1984 that the 
last section of Route 66 was bypassed by the last of the five interstates 
that replaced Americas Main Street.  These interstates were I-55, I-44, 
I-15 and I-10.  Route 66 was decommissioned as a highway in 1985.

	Also, in the 1950s, chain motels were beginning to rise in 
popularity and spread across the country, drawing motorists away from the 
small, unique, mom and pop motor courts.  Admittedly many of the smaller 
motor courts were of poor quality, but just as many were exceptional.  
The public didnt want to chance the former for the latter and turned to 
the dependability of Holiday Inn and Howard Johnsons.  By the 1960s, 
budget chains came into being and the public could now depend on 
consistent mediocrity nation wide, as opposed to chancing the exceptional 
or unique.

	As motorists were drawn away from Route 66 in the 1960s and 1970, 
Coral Court and all of the businesses along Americas Main Street suffered 
as they were isolated from their clientele.  Coral Court developed a 
reputation of having a very liberal guest policy, and by the 1970s and 
1980s, was widely known among high school students as a favored 
destination after school dances and proms.  In 1989, I worked as a stock 
clerk at the Drug Emporium, one-half mile east of Coral Court on Watson 
Road.  Every five or six weeks, an employee of the Court would come into 
the drugstore to shop and would proceed to load two carts, one with 
toilet paper and the other with 36 count packs of condoms for the condom 
vending machines that he indicated were in the rooms.  This was certainly 
not something that diminished the magnitude of the rumors about the 
Court.  The Court was certainly not trying to prove the rumors wrong and 
quite possibly this type of business was the only thing that was keeping 
the doors open.

	Bumper stickers stating "Your Place, My Place, or Coral Courts" 
became popular among Court fans and the younger, more light hearted local 
population.  The tight lipped attitude of the employees at the Court made 
for even more speculation.  

	Of all the interviews and stories that I have read about the 
Court, never has a Court employee allowed themselves to be identified by 
name, but even more enigmatic, the clerks were notorious for refusing to 
identify patrons or connect incoming calls to patrons rooms.  One area 
businessman sought to get away from the constant phone calls that his 
office made to him at home.  He and his wife moved into a cabin at the 
Court for several months and the Court employees refused to forward his 
office calls to him or even recognize that he was staying there.  To this 
day, his co-workers dont believe that he was actually living there and he 
remembers his stay as the quietest and most relaxing time in his life.  

	John Carrs death in 1984 ended his forty years of impeccable care 
of Coral Court, and began its final spiral down.  Carr left the Court, 
reportedly worth $1 million, to his wife, Jesse Carr, and the 
housekeeper.  Jesse Carr later married long time employee Robert Williams 
and they continued to operate the court, but were unable to keep up with 
the maintenance, and the Court fell into disrepair.  By 1987, rumors were 
circulating that Jesse Carr Williams had optioned the Coral Court 
property to a developer who planned a strip mall for the site.  
Preservationists and local fans of the Court mobilized to save the 
landmark, and the developer gave up on his strip mall plan when he failed 
to obtain the option to an adjacent lot that he needed for the 
development to be viable.

	The Coral Court Preservation Society was formed by local 
historian and staffers for the County Historical Building Commission, 
Esley Hamilton, local architects, and Route 66 fans.  Hamilton, with the 
help of the students of one of his historic preservation classes at 
Washington University in St. Louis, submitted the Coral Court to the 
national Register of Historic Buildings and it was approved in 1989 as 
significant despite its being a few years shy of the fifty year old 
requirement.  This status, however, only protects a building from eminent 
domain, and would not prevent an owner from tearing the historic 
structure down, only local ordinances could do this, and Marlborough has 
no such ordinances.  

	By 1992, many of the cabins of the Court were falling apart and 
suffering from vandalism.  Laurent Torno, St. Louis architect and member 
of the Coral Court Preservation Society, stated that he feared that if 
the preservation efforts had succeeded, that there wouldnt be enough left 
to save.  He cited poor workmanship as a primary cause of the damage, 
stating that the masonry and tile work were of poor quality and were 
beginning to deteriorate.  He pointed out that the slab on grade 
construction had contributed to a severe termite problem and that the 
framing of several units was totally eaten out.  He also stated that many 
of the foundations were sinking and some had sagged as much as 16 inches.

	In 1993, the building inspector identified almost half of the 
buildings of Coral Court as structurally unsound, many of these had 
already been voluntarily taken out of operation by the management.  Faced 
with a renovation that would cost several million dollars, on a business 
that wasnt showing enough profit to justify such a large investment, 
Jesse Carr Williams placed the Coral Court property for sale on the real 
estate market for $1.5 million, with the stipulation that the cabins be 
razed and the property no longer be used as a motor court.  Jesse stated 
that this stipulation was for personal reasons and that she wanted to 
protect the memory of the Court in its heyday and that she would not be 
comfortable with someone else operating the Court.

	The Coral Court Preservation Society had been consistently 
working to this point to keep the court from being sold, but faced with 
this inevitability, they shifted their focus on preserving the condition 
of the now vacant buildings and looking into alternative uses that would 
preserve the remaining structurally sound cabins.  Ideas were brought 
forth for a Route 66 museum, a banquet hall and conference center with 
motel rooms available, an AIDS hospice, housing for older adults, and an 
antique mall.  The preservationists raised funds through T-shirt sales 
and charitable benefits and produced an information brochure that was 
circulated among prospective buyers to publicize the use options that 
would at least leave part of the landmark intact.

	The Village of Marlborough had very different plans for the 
Court.  Marlborough is a rather small municipality, around 160 acres, 
which straddles Watson Road for about a mile, with few commercial 
businesses and a few more residents.  Marlborough has historically been 
very hungry for increased funding and a larger tax base.  Although John 
Carr had been a valued businessman in the Village, and always had many 
advocates on the Village board, his now failed motor court had been as a 
blight on the municipalitys mail thoroughfare.  When a developer came 
forward in 1994 with plans for 45 single family residential properties, 
the Village board saw dollar signs in their eyes and the 45 prospective 
new taxpaying households, the board immediately recommended condemnation 
of Coral Court and in early 1995 rezoned the property as residential.

	As demolition approached, the National Museum of Transportation 
in St. Louis approached the developer and was granted permission to 
remove two buildings to be rebuilt at the museum as part of a Route 66 
themed display.  Volunteers from the Navy Seabees and several youth 
groups worked eight to 10 hour days, for several weeks, to carefully 
disassemble and document the two buildings and placed them in storage 
where they will remain until sufficient funds are raised for the 
reconstruction of one building at the museum.  The museum is currently 
fund raising for the expected $80,000 that it needed for the project by 
selling commemorative etched glass blocks.

	In the summer of 1995, the remainder of the Coral Court was 
flattened, and St. Louis lost an icon forever.  Today construction 
continues at what was 7755 Watson Road, on 45 single unit houses of 
negligible architectural value.  It may take years for many St. Louisans 
to realize just what they have lost.  And why was it lost?  Because 
Americans wanted to travel even faster and didnt want to bother with the 
uniqueness that was allowed for and even encouraged by a slower pace of 
life.  Because Americans didnt want to chance finding a very special 
place but would rather rely on dependable monotony.  Because a business 
that is not profitable is not worth saving, even if it is of historic and 
artistic value.  And because a widened tax base will put more money in 
one small municipalitys coffers.

	With these values, our country will soon be devoid of all things 
special and unique, and will become a consistent wasteland of the utterly 


1	Wallis, Michael, from Coral Court Information Brochure, 1994.

2	Porter Jr., E. R.  "In a Class by Itself: The Coral Court Motel, 
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3	United States Department of the Interior, National Parks Service.  
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