You know I love old gas stations. It’s always a pleasure when I find one.

I most commonly find them on old alignments of highways, but I suppose that’s because I frequent those kinds of roads. But many of them remain in cities and towns off the main roads, as well, such as this one on South Street in downtown Lafayette, Indiana.

Standard Oil

This is a “Red Crown” Standard Oil station, built in about 1927. Standard Oil built lots of these through the late 1920s and into the 1930s, mostly in the Midwest. Maybe a couple of dozen of them remain; this page shows several.

Standard Oil

While this one still operated as a Standard station, it was known as Jonesy’s. It closed during the 1980s and was threatened with demolition. The city library, which is next door, used it as a storage building for a time until local businessman Don Stein rescued it and got it restored. It is said that more than 40 layers of paint were removed from the inside walls to finally reveal the glazed brick. Also, the roof had fallen and was replaced with “new original stock” red tiles that Standard Oil remarkably still had in storage.

Standard Oil

The building was a petroliana museum for a while, but was later used as a stationary advertisement of sorts for the city of Lafayette. It’s not clear what the building’s use is now. As I researched this station, I found photos from not long ago that show details that are now missing, such as “Jonesey’s” lettering over the door, a “Standard Oil Products” sign over the plate window, and “WASHING” lettering over the left garage bay. At least the letters pictured above remain intact.

If you’d like to see some of the other vintage gas stations I’ve found, check out all of my posts tagged Gas Stations.

Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A, Fujicolor 200 (at EI 100)

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Film Photography, Road Trips

Standard Oil Red Crown station in Lafayette, Indiana

A circa 1927 gas station still stands, unused, in Lafayette, Indiana.

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1932 Standard Station

1932 Standard station
iPhone 5
2013

I’m planning our Spring Break vacation, so I’ve been thinking about past trips, like the one we took in 2013 along Route 66.

 

Photography
Image

Bob's Century

I was in a super bad mood the other day and decided to distract myself from it by looking back through some photographs from just after I got my first digital camera, a Kodak EasyShare Z730. I found some that had potential and brought some of them into Photoshop for some tweaking. The Z730 has a very capable Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens but is limited by an average sensor. Details are blotchy at maximum resolution, so I was careful not to crop too deeply. While the original image is a color shot with vivid reds and blues, I liked it better when I converted it to black and white.

I don’t know if Bob’s Century is still operating. It’s way down on the southwest side of town on an old alignment of State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway, and I never get down there. It was an anachronism already when I stopped to photograph it in 2007 – a full-service gas station with a mechanic’s bay. For that reason alone, I hope it’s still going.

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Check out these old gas stations
I found when exploring Indiana’s US 50.

Photography, Road Trips

Captured: Bob’s Century

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History, Preservation, Road Trips

Restored Phillips 66 service station on Route 66

They call Spencer a ghost town, but I say that there would have to be more town here for it to qualify. This dot on the southwest Missouri map has but one row of buildings, capped by this restored Phillips 66 service station.

Spencer Phillips 66

It’s the last thing you expect to find as you turn onto this old, almost forgotten alignment of the road.

Imagery ©2013 DigitalGlobe, USDA Farm Service Agency, Map data ©2013 Google.

Imagery ©2013 DigitalGlobe, USDA Farm Service Agency, Map data ©2013 Google.

Because it is almost forgotten, it still bears the 1924 steel truss bridge I wrote about here and the 1920s concrete pavement I wrote about here. It looks like what is now Highway N used to curve around to follow this alignment, but what is now Highway 96 was built later to be a straighter and truer path for the Mother Road. That must have happened a very long time ago for the bridge never to have been upgraded and the concrete never to have been covered with asphalt. Check out that glorious concrete as it passes by this station.

Spencer Phillips 66

Spencer formed here in the 1870s, with a store, a church, and a post office lining what was then known as Carthage Road. It’s said that by 1912 the old road had become impassable, which hurt the town’s fortunes. The arrival of Route 66 in 1927 led to the concrete pavement and the bridge. It sparked the local economy enough to establish this service station and a few other businesses.

Spencer Phillips 66

This was first a Tydol station; later, it switched to Phillips 66. I imagine that the road brought just enough business here to provide a living for the proprietors, but not enough to make anybody wealthy.

Spencer Phillips 66

The realignment of Route 66 along what is now Highway 96 had to have hurt business, but the construction of nearby I-44 surely killed it. Traffic dried up and soon these businesses closed for good.

Spencer Phillips 66

This restoration is recent, and appears to be ongoing. I’ve seen photos of this building from the past few years that show it boarded up in dereliction and, later, in various stages of restoration. This awning and these gas pumps weren’t there just a couple years ago, for example. The other buildings in this row have been tidied up but it looks like a lot more work can be done to them. Here’s hoping that happens. It’s stops like this, out in the middle of nowhere, that make Route 66 a wonderful museum of 20th-century history.

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Check out the restored Standard
station on Route 66 in Illinois here.

Standard
History, Preservation, Road Trips

Restored Standard service station on Route 66

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

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

Standard
Photography

Captured: National Road gas station

1931 gas station building

If you ever drive into Terre Haute, Indiana, on US 40 (the old National Road), as you pass by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on the outskirts of town be sure to look for this little stone house. It’s right by the highway, next to their baseball field.

Would you believe this was once a gas station? As the automobile began its rise to prominence in the 1920s, travelers felt more comfortable stopping for services when the building looked like someone’s friendly home. This gas station was built in 1931 and originally stood a couple miles farther down the road. When I moved to Terre Haute in 1985 it was dilapidated and forgotten. By 1999 it was in danger of being demolished. The Indiana National Road Association and Rose-Hulman rescued it, moving it to this location and restoring it. It serves as the snack bar for the baseball field.

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See more roadside relics from the
National Road in Terre Haute in this post.

Standard