Eatery updates set for Will Rogers Turnpike

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: October 31, 2009
One of Oklahoma’s most visible landmarks is getting a face-lift.

The Glass House structure that houses a McDonald’s restaurant over the Will Rogers Turnpike near the Vinita exit will be renovated.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Thursday approved a $580,000 contract with Beck Design to come up with architectural plans renovating the structure.

Turnpike Authority members considered several options, including tearing it down and building a new structure, spokesman Jack Damrill said.

"It’s a very historic site that needs to be preserved,” he said. "The building is very run down right now. The roof leaks. It’s just dirty. It’s old.”

Motorists have complained about the building’s appearance for years, he said. Many were displeased about the appearance it gave to out-of-state motorists; it’s the first major travel plaza from the Missouri border.

"We really couldn’t do anything because our hands were tied with the lease,” Damrill said.

Leases expire in the next couple of years, so the Turnpike Authority can negotiate improvements made to the building, he said.

Built shortly after the turnpike opened in 1957 by Conoco, now Conoco-Phillips, it was the first restaurant built over a U.S. public highway. It offered a simple solution to serve motorists passing in both directions by having the restaurant over the road.