LUTHER — Located close to a “sunset city,” a historic fueling station on U.S. Route 66 supplied Black vacationers a secure place for in a single day keep, and gas and meals purchases in the course of the Jim Crow period.
That secure haven in Luther, the Threatt Filling Station and Household Farm, was lately named to the 2021 listing of America’s Most Endangered Historic Locations. The Nationwide Belief for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit, compiles the listing yearly and the Threatt institution was certainly one of 11 websites chosen this yr.
The Black-owned Threatt property is positioned close to Edmond, a Jim Crow period anti-Black city the place African People risked life and limb if caught inside the metropolis limits after sunset.
The Rev. Allen Threatt III, 82, mentioned the station was standard amongst each Black and white locals, however it was a boon for Black vacationers who had been denied entry to “Whites-Solely” inns and eating places alongside the “Mom Highway.”
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“It was type of a refuge as a result of we could not keep at a Vacation Inn or one thing like that,” he mentioned.
Along with being a security web for Black vacationers, the Threatts mentioned the household farm additionally offered non permanent sanctuary for some survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a tragic episode of racial violence recently commemorated in Tulsa.
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The minister’s grandfather, Allen Threatt Sr., constructed the filling station in 1915. The Threatt household, he mentioned, is happy about their 160-acre property being named to the “endangered” listing as a result of they suppose the itemizing will finally assist increase consciousness concerning the station and its distinctive place in Oklahoma and American historical past. One other grandson of Allen Threatt Sr., C. David Threatt, 72, mentioned they’re hoping extra consciousness will end in extra grant funding and donations to assist make the property accessible to the general public as an interpretive middle or museum of kinds — ideally in time for the Route 66 centennial in 2026.
He mentioned it was the one Black-owned service station on Route 66 in Oklahoma they usually have not discovered any others within the different states linked by the roadway.
This distinction is likely one of the causes the constructing that housed the fueling station is already on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations.
The film chronicled the true story of a outstanding Black musician who employed an Italian bouncer to offer safety as he started a live performance tour within the Deep South in 1962. The pair depend on the “The Negro Motorist Inexperienced Guide,” a real-life guidebook that listed inns, taverns, eating places, service stations and different institutions the place Black vacationers could be accepted as clients and the place they’d be much less more likely to be harassed or attacked by whites. “Inexperienced Guide” was nominated for 5 Academy Awards and received three of them in 2019, together with Greatest Image.
Threatt relations mentioned their property wasn’t within the Inexperienced Books of the period however solely as a result of most African-People knew concerning the Threatt institution. The fueling station closed within the Seventies. In 2018, the Nationwide Park Service awarded the Threatt household a $5,000 grant to fund a situation evaluation and preservation plan for the constructing.
Allen Threatt III, who’s pastor of Mount Nice Baptist Church in Arcadia, mentioned the station’s basis is in good condition however the constructing wants a brand new roof and different enhancements.
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Each he and C. David Threatt, who lives in Maryland, keep in mind taking part in at the fueling station once they had been boys.
C. David Threatt mentioned as youths, they knew about some facets of the household property, like its use as a haven for some race bloodbath survivors, however this was not talked about a lot. He mentioned this wasn’t stunning as a result of many Black individuals had been afraid to speak about it out of concern of drawing extra racist violence and backlash from whites who needed to maintain it secret.
“That was one of many issues we discovered about after we had been younger. For our mother and father, it was a type of issues that they talked about in hushed tones,” he mentioned.
On a extra glad observe, Allen Threatt III mentioned he remembers his grandfather having him pump gas for patrons. He additionally remembered the Nationwide Negro League baseball video games performed on the Threatt Household Farm property and the favored out of doors dances that had been held there. He mentioned well-known Black People, together with the “Brown Bomber” — skilled boxer Joe Lewis — and gospel music icon Mahalia Jackson, stopped there.
He mentioned he’d like for extra youths to be taught concerning the distinctive piece of historical past simply alongside Route 66.
“Any publicity will assist us with the Threatt Filling Station and in addition let younger individuals, youngsters, know historical past and allow them to know what was occurring. We did not have highways and the Kilpatrick toll roads then,” he mentioned.
‘Greater than only a gasoline station’
Rhys Martin, president of the Route 66 Affiliation, mentioned he was happy that the Threatt Filling Station and Household Farm was being singled out by way of the endangered listing.
“I am very hopeful that this nationwide recognition will assist carry extra consciousness to the Threatt household story, which is a chunk of a a lot greater puzzle, however I really feel prefer it’s a really nice illustration of that and of a few of the experiences that are not the ‘rosy milkshakes and Cadillacs on Route 66’ that folks usually affiliate with the touring expertise,” he mentioned.
“For years, the Threatt household has been attempting to understand plans to take the outdated filling station and create a museum that talks about a few of the Black experiences touring the route in the course of the Jim Crow period, and speaking about sunset cities and even Oklahoma’s early historical past of plenty of the all-Black cities that had been based right here. It could actually function a leaping off level for individuals to type of perceive that in a manner that they won’t as a result of there’s actually nothing else like that (filling station) on the street.”
Emphasizing the Threatt property’s use as a ball area and gathering place, Martin mentioned “It is greater than only a gasoline station.”
“The hope is that it’s going to carry individuals into the story and into the potential to serving to them (Threatt household) notice this imaginative and prescient that in any other case could be to not know it is there or drive by it and simply see this sandstone constructing and never suppose twice about it,” he mentioned.
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Defending historical past
Leaders with the Nationwide Historic Preservation Belief mentioned the “endangered” listing serves as a manner to attract much-needed consideration to websites throughout the U.S. that needs to be preserved.
“This listing attracts consideration to historic locations we should shield and honor — not solely as a result of they outline our previous, but additionally as a result of the tales they inform provide essential classes for the way in which ahead collectively,” Paul Edmondson, the group’s president, mentioned in a press release.
“These 11 locations have a good time the truth that our previous is a multicultural material that, when pieced collectively, reveals our true identification as People.”
Just like the Threatt Filling Station and Household Farm, a majority of the properties on the 2021 list are linked to African People or different minority teams.
The listing consists of the three Black-owned Selma to Montgomery March camp websites in Selma, Alabama, the place 1000’s of Civil Rights demonstrators camped in a single day alongside their march from Selma to Montgomery to marketing campaign for full voting rights.
Additionally on the listing are the Summit Tunnels 6 & 7 and Summit Camp Website in Truckee, California, which assist inform the story of the 1000’s of Chinese language railroad employees who constructed the Transcontinental Railroad by way of the Sierra Nevada mountains from 1865 to 1867.