Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fill 'Er Up?

An old service station in Hempstead, Texas

One thing that has always held a fascination to me is service stations. My dad tells me that when I could barely talk, I could recognize and name the various brands. Over the years, the architecture of stations has evolved, including some very nice art deco style stations in the pre-World War II era. Even though the "service" is long gone from what are today self-serve pumps, the basic idea of an refueling island has remained a constant.

The photo above is a vintage service station that is situated on old US 290 in Hempstead, Texas. As new 290 (Houston's Northwest Freeway) has finally bypassed the town, it is having an impact on businesses on the old route. I don't know how long it has been since gasoline has been dispensed from here, but the pumps are long gone. It appears to be a tire business, but has no sign; and the post that once held a sign proclaiming a brand of gasoline, now holds a tall stack of old, painted tires. The ubiquitous Halsey Taylor water cooler is plugged in, but as this was taken on Sunday afternoon, it is hard to tell if there is still a business operating at this location.

Regardless of its current status, I hope this example of roadside American architecture ends up being restored rather than falling to demolition. A coat of white paint and a bit of TLC could make this a great home for some small business.

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