Bloomington owner of historic train car hopes for B&B renovation | State and Regional

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David Parker speaks at a gathering Sunday on the Nation Inn & Suites off Illinois Route 9 about future plans for a 110-year-old sleeper automobile that was moved this fall from Harristown to Bloomington.




BLOOMINGTON — A 110-year-old electric passenger train car that was as soon as outfitted with sleeping rooms could as soon as once more lodge in a single day vacationers.

Or so its new proprietor hopes.

After working for the previous couple of months to move the train car about 50 miles to his backyard off Historic Route 66 in southwest Bloomington, David Parker mentioned he plans to renovate the practice automobile right into a bed-and-breakfast that his spouse will assist run. 

Parker, together with a small group of native history buffs, met Sunday afternoon at Nation Inn & Suites to set the automobile’s future monitor to being restored.

Parker mentioned during the last 5 months, he’s been so obsessive about determining how one can relocate the vintage automobile that he’s simply now figuring out what the subsequent steps can be.






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Proprietor David Lee takes a photograph in September as David Parker works to maneuver a historic 1911 practice automobile from Harristown to Bloomington. Parker plans to renovate it into a possible café or bed-and-breakfast.




Throughout the assembly, Parker surveyed attendees on how they assume it needs to be transformed.

Some objects mentioned included what to call it, what number of cabins the renovated format may have, and whether or not to color it inexperienced, within the model of a Illinois Traction System automobile, or orange, after the Illinois Terminal Railroad automobile.

Historic paperwork have been additionally shared, like late nineteenth century Pantagraph archives promoting the traction automobile as the one interurban path to run sleeper vehicles.




Parker mentioned it’s been retrofitted 4 occasions earlier than — as a coach automobile, a bed room automobile, once more as coach automobile, after which as a bunk automobile — and he envisions its fifth mission to be a bed-and-breakfast. 

Dale Jenkins, of Decatur, attended the assembly. He mentioned the renovations ought to embrace “creature comforts,” similar to a full toilet.  

Though Parker mentioned he considers himself to be a purist, he needs the automobile to achieve its mission of getting restored.

“The automobile has to pay for its personal restoration,” he mentioned. “My spouse would not let me transfer till I ultimately paid it off.”

The Pantagraph has beforehand reported Parker has expertise transforming airplanes from as early because the Thirties. At Sunday’s assembly, he wore a sweatshirt with a full-print picture of a propeller airplane engine.

Parker mentioned he’s put about $10,000 of his personal cash into the practice automobile mission. A GoFundMe page has raised practically $4,000 of its $5,000 objective to renovate the practice automobile.






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David Parker works in September to maneuver a historic 1911 practice automobile in Harristown to Bloomington. He hopes to remodel the automobile right into a café or bed-and-breakfast.




He estimated ultimate rehab prices to go as much as $150,000. Parker additionally mentioned he plans to take out a mortgage and deal with the completed product as actual property.

He prompt renting the rooms out for $200 an evening on Airbnb and advertising them to vacationers following Route 66.

Jenkins talked about the sleeper automobile as soon as had a scorching plate and porter to serve heated rolls and occasional.

Retired McLean County Historical past Museum Director Greg Koos advisable displaying a closed-loop 1952 movie that reveals the older layouts of the automobile.

Jenkins added different movies return to 1935-1937.

Koos additionally advisable the automobile might be transformed with inside steampunk aesthetics.

The historical past museum’s librarian, Invoice Kemp, was additionally in attendance. He mentioned a Route 66 lodge looks like an untapped market.

“Once you’re touring round Route 66 from Brazil or from New England, you are going to pay the additional $50,” he mentioned.

By the assembly’s finish, Parker advised The Pantagraph he thought the consensus was to color it inexperienced and rebuild the inside with three cabins with double beds, and a shared rest room, kitchen and dwelling space. And it will be rented out to at least one group at a time.

The identify can be “Sleeper Automotive Illinois.”

One other drawback to unravel, he mentioned, can be discovering folks to revive it, as he would not need that to take 20 years by doing it himself on weekends.

“In the event you go to the Yellow Pages, there’s actually not a class for practice restorations,” he mentioned.



David Parker works on Tuesday to maneuver a historic 1911 practice automobile from Harristown to Bloomington. It had been a part of the Illinois Traction System. Parker was working with a Bloomington’s Shrink Wrap firm from Bloomington that may safely transfer the practice.







Clay Jackson






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