It is time. With a prayer, the first phase of funding in place, and a signed contract, renovation is clear to begin at Luther’s historic Threatt Filling Station. Oh, Happy Day.
Rev. Allen Threatt and Ed Threatt, first cousins, visited the station this week to offer a prayer of blessing before local custom builder Dana Holman begins work to bring back to life the station on the corner of Route 66 and County Line Road, east of Luther.
The door opened and the memories return. In the 1950s, little Ed sat on his uncle’s lap in a booth over there. The television behind the counter was barely heard over the chatter of customers grabbing food items from the shelves. Orders of hotdogs and hamburgers came through the little window from the kitchen. Rev. Threatt, at about 12 years old, was finally big enough to pump gas and wash windshields during those summers of fun.
It all seemed so much bigger then. But now as patriarchs of the family, they marvel at how such a relatively small building was so full of life.
The grandsons and all of the many descendants of Allen Threatt Sr. are embarking on an important new phase of honoring the legacy of the Black businessman and farmer who acquired 160 acres of land, remarkably during the ugly Jim Crow Era. The family raised crops and quarried native sandstone that was part of the station’s construction in 1915. A decade later, Route 66 was built stretching across the country, and right in front of the station where famous travelers like Pearl Bailey and others stopped. The Threatt Filling Station was a haven for motorists to fuel up, get food, and be genuinely welcomed.
Allen Threatt Sr. died in December 1950. His son, Ulysses Grant Threatt, took over the operation of the station and cafe until his death in December 1956. His wife Elizabeth Hilton Threatt, a school teacher for whom the library in Luther is named, kept the cafe running until 1974 and lived in the building until her death in 2009. The building has been vacant since.
For the last several years, the family has rallied to raise funds to restore the property. A foundation has been established, historic designations have been bestowed, grants have been awarded. Store ledgers and the original cash register are part of a Smithsonian exhibit. There was great momentum until the project was stalled by the pandemic, and then hampered by skyrocketing costs of construction materials. Funding is finally in place to begin restoration on the station while fund-raising continues for other projects on the property.
Although delayed, the family is grateful for the progress. The plan is to welcome modern-day Route 66 visitors well before the centennial anniversary of The Mother Road in 2026, perhaps even this year.
The renovation work will be undertaken by Holman. Well-known for his craftsmanship, other projects include the transformation of the former Luther Bank & Trust building into Luther Town Hall on Main Street, his family’s Our Town Eatery Restaurant, and other residential and commercial work.
To learn more about the Threatt Family and make a tax-deductible donation, visit The Threatt Filling Station Foundation.