Volo Auto Museum wants to save McDonald's site from wrecking ball

Auto museum wants to save historic Des Plaines McDonald's by moving it

A museum with a penchant for nostalgia hopes to relocate the Des Plaines McDonald's museum some 30 miles northwest in an effort to save it.

The Volo Auto Museum - a repository for classic cars, jukeboxes and neon signs - reached out this week to McDonald's corporate brass after the hamburger chain announced plans to demolish the 32-year-old replica of its first franchised restaurant in Des Plaines. The company also plans to remove and preserve the original 62-year-old neon "Speedee" road sign, though where it would go or be displayed is still unknown.

"We'd sure like to have a part of it there, rather than seeing it disappear," Brian Grams, Volo Auto Museum's director, said of the local roadside attraction at 400 Lee St. in Des Plaines.

Grams decided to contact McDonald's corporate offices in Oak Brook Wednesday after people came to him asking if the auto museum could do anything to save some of what's on the historic McDonald's site, where founder Ray Kroc opened his first walk-up restaurant in 1955.

Grams envisions the Speedee sign being able to fit in one of the dozen showrooms at the auto museum, at Routes 12 and 120. And he's optimistic the replica building - golden arches and all - could be relocated to the museum's 35-acre property.

Grams said the museum would be open to paying some costs for the historic relics.

"It all comes down to logistics, dollars and cents," he said.

Des Plaines officials have also asked if there is anything they can do to keep the site intact, but McDonald's executives told them they're unwilling to donate everything to another user because of the need to protect their brand. Plans call for the company to raze the building and donate the land to the city because of its location in an oft-flooded area and the difficulty of maintaining it.

Des Plaines History Center officials also expressed interest in forming a partnership with McDonald's to manage and maintain the property.

So far, the company has said that it planned to "remove and preserve anything of historical value," which could include the sign and original kitchen equipment used at the first McDonald's. The building is a replica built in 1985 using Kroc's original blueprints.

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  Volo Auto Museum Director Brian Grams, shown here in 2015 in a 1981 DeLorean, reached out to McDonald's corporate brass this week in hopes of preserving the replica restaurant building and original sign of Ray Kroc's first franchised location. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
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