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Oblong Box

Service Station. Route 25, Georgetown (Scott County). Not all service station owners were satisfied with the spaces created by adding a few bays to an older house-type station.  In the late 1930s and 1940s, station owners began to construct new, modern gasoline stations with service bays integrated into the design of the building.  The idea was to design a structure that implied speed, modernity, and progress, in a time of great economic and social uncertainty.  These new stations were rectangular in shape and contained at least two-to-three bays for automotive repairs.

Referred to as oblong boxes, the buildings were of steel frame construction wrapped in porcelain enamel tiles and large plate glass windows.  Gulf station, Louisville (courtesy Louisville Photo Archives). The large windows served the purpose of showcasing the station's line of tires, batteries, and accessories (TBA) that station owners relied on for extra revenues.  Perhaps the most significant difference between the older gas stations and their more modern successors was the desire to draw attention to the buildings themselves.  No longer was there an effort to blend gas stations in with their surroundings; large corporate station owners, like Texaco, went to great pains to set apart their station from domestic (house) architecture.  By the mid-1950s, nearly all service stations were designed with this in mind.

The Georgetown service station above left typifies flashy station architecture in the 1950s.  The standard oblong box was, in this case, sheathed in porcelain tiles and accented with a swooping canopy and signage pylon to attract attention.  Additionally, the front office was set off from the service bays by its smaller size and tilting plate glass windows.  As was the case with the earlier stations, the building was placed at the center of the lot to allow for easy access by car.  Gas pumps were always situated in the front of the building on pump islands.  The Gulf Station from Louisville, above right, had a slanted facade for the office to take better advantage of the corner lot.


Last Updated 3/17/2008