No other type of building was more influenced by the rise of the automobile than the gasoline or service station. Before 1910, there was little need for gas stations, as automobile ownership was restricted to wealthy hobbyists. In order to obtain gasoline during this time, the motorist was required to visit the local kerosene refinery on the city outskirts and lug a bucket of fuel to the vehicle.
After Henry Ford perfected the mass production of motor cars in 1908 and thus lowered their price, car ownership became much more common. Typically, the local hardware store or carriage maker added a gas pump to the front stoop of their busy central city location. This arrangement proved less than satisfactory, though, because cars lined up to refuel, blocking major urban thoroughfares. The gasoline station building, then, was created to serve Kentucky’s ever-growing motoring public. Between the 1920s and the 1960s, designs for these buildings evolved to reflect the economy, the influence of the consumer, and the expansion of the auto service industry.