Interior design students helped a local Route 66 historian with her efforts to restore and develop an historic building from the heyday of the “Mother Road.” The students prepared designs for rooms inside a 1930s-era service station owned by Terri Ryburn ’85, M.S. ’88, Ph.D. 99.

A retired School of Kinesiology and Recreation staff member, Ryburn owns the Tudor Revival-style structure in Normal. The building originally housed a gas station, restaurant, and garage. The owner’s and the mechanic’s apartments were on the second floor.

Ryburn, who has written and lectured extensively about Route 66 history and culture, purchased the building in 2006 and began restoration efforts. The interior design students worked in teams to develop design ideas for a proposed coffee shop, theatre, and office area on the first floor. Students from three classes worked on the overall concepts, lighting, and final renderings.

“This is a great practical experience for the students and a great way to help with the restoration of an historic building,” said Wendy VanderNoordaa, an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. The project gave students an opportunity to apply concepts, and valuable insight working with a client and other team members.

“There is a lot more to this project than just developing the concepts for the rooms. The students have researched the history of Route 66 and the Art Deco design used in the building. They have also studied the marketability of the coffee shop and the community theatre.”

The student designs provided Ryburn with a creative vision for the building’s interior, without the fees charged by professional designers. When applying for grant funding for restoration efforts, she must show that the project involves a great deal of volunteer labor. The students’ work on the designs can be counted toward those volunteer hours.