Calmez Hotel exhibit has opened
One of the largest crowds ever packed into the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum Thursday night for the unveiling of “The Hotel Calmez: Clinton’s Beacon on Route 66.” The centerpiece of the exhibit — a Calmez neon sign measuring 7 and three-quarters feet by 39 inches donated to the museum for permanent display by local businessman Troy Lee — was unveiled as part of the evening by Lee and the granddaughter of hotel founder, Claude Monroe Calmes, Linda Calmes Howell of Oklahoma City.
Museum volunteer Virgil Smith, noted for his award-winning work on several restoration projects for the museum, said the sign was rusty with the neon bulbs broken out when they got it. It took some two years of work to restore the sign to its Calmez heyday glory, including custom work on the sign’s lighted lettering by the only artisan left in the state who does such work in Oklahoma City. Total price tag on the sign was around $1,500.
While the restored sign was not even the second most prominent sign that marked the pioneer hostelry (there were larger signs on top of the building and in front) it was the most feasible for the exhibit and future display in the museum, Smith said, even though they did have a chance to obtain the large vertical front sign visible in many pictures.