We were in the first hours of our Route 66 trip’s first day when we reached Odell, a small northern-Illinois town, and its wonderful Standard service station.

1932 Standard Station

You know how it is early on a road trip. The excitement is fresh, your eyes are wide open, and you want to stop and look at everything. At the other end of our trip, three days later on Oklahoma’s vast plain, we passed many things by. Trip fatigue was closing our eyes. “Look, boys, another old gas station,” I’d say, and keep driving. I’d hear a grunt of acknowledgement from the back seat.

1932 Standard Station

I’m glad we stopped for this one. It’s been carefully restored and is a joy to behold. The building was erected in two parts: the main gas station in 1932, and the service bays in about 1940. It began its life as a Standard station, but later sold Phillips 66 and Sinclair fuels. The photo below shows the station during its Phillips 66 days, and hangs in the Route 66 Museum in Pontiac, Illinois.

1932 Standard Station

Just after the war, Route 66 was rerouted to bypass Odell. Traffic dried up and business dropped off. The service bays saved this station, which increasingly focused on repairs and body work to keep it going. It stopped selling gasoline in the late 1960s, and closed for good in the mid 1970s.

1932 Standard Station

Preservationists, the persistent lot that they are, made sure that this link to our past survived. The village of Odell bought the station to save it. The Route 66 Association of Illinois won it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. $55,000 was raised to restore the station to its original glory.

1932 Standard Station

We found several old service stations on Route 66, many of which had been restored, but none were as delightful as this one.

1932 Standard Station

I found several old service stations along US 50 in Indiana, too. See them here.

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8 responses to “Restored Standard service station on Route 66”

  1. traveller858 Avatar

    Saturation on the first couple of shots is terrific. Keep it up Jim.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks! The very first shot perfectly nailed the blue trim on the building. That one’s from my iPhone 5, which is a remarkably capable camera. The rest came from my Canon PowerShot S95, which isn’t quite as good with vivid color.

  2. traveller858 Avatar

    Jim, I’ve just been look again at the pump prices!!!! Wow here’s a comparison for today at UK pump prices –
    Then 10 US Gals = £1.81
    Now 10 US Gals = £51.48
    US Gals converted to litres for comparison purposes.
    Any idea of a date for this pump?

    Last time I was in the states (2012) petrol was hitting $3 a gallon. Just about 10 times more than your picture.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Let’s say that this gas rate card is from 1932, the year this station opened. I ran 23 cents through an inflation calculator at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Web site, and learned that 23 cents in 1932 is equivalent to $3.91 today! That’s about what I pay now for a gallon of regular unleaded.

      The pump is a gravity pump — you physically pump gas into the glass area at the top until you have the number of gallons you want, and then you let gravity do its work to put the gas in your tank. I’m not completely up on my petroliana, but I’d have to say that by WW II these were no longer being newly installed in the US.

  3. ryoko861 Avatar

    I love the visible gas pumps! They’re very expensive in restored condition. This station is definitely a gem! But I can relate to the boys. After awhile, you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. But it’s nice that some of these stations have been saved. There is an old Texaco station down the road from me that isn’t as old as the ones you’ve seen along Rt. 66 but it’s probably from the early 70’s. It’s just sitting there. It kills me to see it just deteriorate. But it’ll be demolished and a sub division built in it’s place amongst the corn fields. So much for nostalgia

    1. Jim Avatar

      My sons know their dad is a road fan, and they’re patient. They really do seem to enjoy seeing things like this, but I have a much larger appetite for it than they do.

      Demolishing old buildings in favor of “progress” seems to be the way of the world.

  4. pesoto74 Avatar

    I have never seen a station of this style so nicely restored. There is one of this type in Danville, IL. Some people are using it for a house. I remember reading that one of the reasons for the visible gas dispensers was that people like to see the gas they were getting.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m sure in a day before state inspections, seeing that you were getting what you paid for was a little more important.

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