Route 46 Entertainment District® revisits a time when automobiles and roadways weren't just a modern day convenience, but rather, an exciting way of life for many Americans across the country.
During the pre-World War II years of 1919-1969, ingenuity and integrity thrived in the automobile and roadway cultures. America embarked on many changes in the 20th century with automobiles and roadways playing key roles in bringing the country closer together.
The advent of the automobile changed the face of American forever. The arrival of Henry Ford's Model T in 1908 had a dramatic effect on the American populace, as automobiles became accessible to the common man. In 1921, an amendment to the Federal Aid Road Act was passed, requiring states to designate primary roads to be included in a state highway system. These roads would be designated U.S. highways and routes, the most famous of which is Route 66.
As U.S. highways and routes connected towns, cities, and states, the auto industry prospered. Families spent vacations on road trips to historical U.S. landmarks, while commerce exploded with freightliners delivering goods from east to west on major interstates/highways and small country roads.
Central Florida routes and highways changed with the times. In the early 1900s, Sanford and Monroe (now Lake Monroe) played critical roles in bringing commerce to the area. Sanford was a bustling hub of transportation and commerce with five railroad lines, steamboat docks, and the second largest ice plant in the world. It also served as a cultural center for entertainment - including opera, fairs, and a destination for winter visitors vacationing at the finest hotels in the state. Sanford and Monroe had become a "gateway community" for travelers.
For over four decades, five filling stations resided at the intersection of St. Gertrude Avenue (RT 46) and Monroe Road (CR 15). This intersection became known as "Monroe Corner," and it became a popular area for local residents and travelers to fill their tanks. Roadside mom-and-pop businesses, like the filing stations on Monroe Corner, played an integral role with travelers. Not only did they provide drivers a place to fix a tire, get a hot cup of coffee and meal, it also presented an opportunity for friendly advice, storytelling, and building friendships. There was camaraderie on the roadway one often does not experience today.
Route 46 Entertainment District® values the integrity of that time and has developed the motto: Perfecting the Past®. Rare collectibles are showcased throughout the entertainment district. From gas station signage to antique cars, Route 46 is a car enthusiast's dream. When guests set foot onto our property, they are transported to a time when the automobile industry exploded across the country and changed the area. The spirit of the era is reflected in our personable guest service, unique petroliana and automobilia exhibitions, and homemade culinary dishes. Route 46 combines all of this with innovative entertainment, making it an exciting blast from the past. Guests are sure to have a unique experience in each venue, but one factor remains the same throughout - excellent guest service.
Contributors: Sanford Historical Society, Charlie Carlson - Historian/Author, and Christine Kinlaw Best - Historian/Author