Missouri: Rock Fountain Court

Stone cottages with peaked roofs. Tall trees are behind the cottages.
Rock Fountain Court in Springfield, MO


Quick Facts
2400 W College St Springfield, MO 65806
Historic cabins along Route 66
National Register of Historic Places

Although the actual rock fountain is long gone, visitors to this well-preserved roadside site along historic Missouri Route 66 can still take in the stately semi-circle of nine original stone veneered cabins facing north along the old Mother Road in Springfield. This arrangement of freestanding tourist cabins was the preferred design for roadside lodgings in the 1920s and early 30s. By the time Rock Fountain Cabins was built in 1945 by local developer “Mac” MacCandless, however, the popularity of this layout was waning, giving way to the more modern “motel” design of multiple units under one roof. It was the year when wartime rationing and travel restrictions ended, and the Mother Road’s great golden age began. Between 1945 and the coming of the interstate highways in the 1960s, Route 66 would enjoy prosperity. 

Although out of fashion in outward appearance in 1945, Rock Fountain Cabins was fully typical of its time as a locally owned and operated roadside lodging facility. It may be difficult to imagine in an age of national chains, but as late as 1948, around 98% of lodging businesses in the United States were still independent operations. In the time before corporate standardization, proprietors along Route 66 did not hesitate to put their unique stamp on construction and design. This often meant utilizing local, readily available building materials. Mr. MacCandless chose a regional favorite: Ozark sandstone. Ed Waddell, a mason, gave each of the nine frame cabins a distinctive Ozark Rock sandstone veneer. Typical for such roadside businesses, only the first cabin--the only one fully viewable from the road--is sheathed entirely in stone. The others received the masonry work just on their visible facades and porches, with the less noticeable sides and rears done in asbestos shingle. Structurally, all cabins are generally the same. They are rectangular and have steep, gabled roofs with stylish front cross gables and recessed porches, and yet thoroughly reflecting the idiosyncratic approach of the mom and pop era, each cabin is slightly different. Floor plans and window locations vary; some have brick chimneys, and the masonry veneer differs widely in color and tone from cabin to cabin.

The nine cabins are arranged in a semi-circle around a hedge-trimmed grass courtyard, which held the now vanished rock fountain. At the eastern end of the semi-circle is the residence/office, which no longer retains its original character. Behind the cabins to the southwest is an original stone veneer and asbestos garage. 

As with so many roadside businesses along the Mother Road, Rock Fountain Court evolved after the decommissioning of Route 66 and the coming of I-44 in the 1960s. Today known as the Melinda Court Apartments, it is a long-term rental property. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

The Rock Fountain Court is located at 2400 West College St. in Springfield, MO. It is not open to the public.

See the Rock Fountain Court National Register nomination form.

Last updated: June 6, 2022