This presentation is part of the Are We There Yet: Preservation of Roadside Architecture and Attractions, April 10-12, 2018, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Abstract and Presenter’s Bio

Photo of Renee Benn standing at the podium during her presentation

Renee Benn

Renee Benn: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m here to talk to you about our updated field guide to gas stations in Texas. I should mention that it also applies regionally, not just to Texas, but you can apply it probably here in Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, maybe even further out than that. I did bring one copy with me and we’re hoping though that you’ll download a copy for yourself, but I have this if you want to flip through it.

From the high style, as we saw yesterday, to the Humble, to the unknowns, TxDOT’s guide can help you assess gas stations. We originally produced a guide to gas stations in 2003 and with our SHPO we recently embarked on several studies of historic highways in Texas. These studies included developing a context for roads and bridges. As well as sponsoring a survey of the Bankhead and Meridian named highways, which cross our state. In talking to some of you yesterday, I guess I should’ve included a map of Bankhead and Meridian. They were cross country routes, they were longer than Route 66 and so Bankhead Highway went from Texarkana to El Paso in Texas and Meridian Highway went from Wichita Falls to Laredo.

Photo of the document cover

Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas

We did these surveys and we sought to capture all road related properties along the historic and current alignments of the roads. We captured hotels, restaurants and gas stations, along with service stations and car repair shops and the like. When we finished those surveys we found it was a good time to update the gas station guide to the 1970s, since we had so many gas station property types documented. The guide is very visual and written from professional historians and researchers. We think the general public can find it useful as well.

That’s not showing up very colorfully on the screen, but I just wanted to share some of the highlights of the guide and so it includes sections for each major company in Texas. Through the years with building forum drawings, which you see there. I don’t have a laser pointer. Identifying features or the gas stations, the geographic range of where they were in Texas and the photos from the time period or drawings where we could find them. The guide takes you through each major company’s architectural style and building form through time. Here we have some earlier Humble stations and their components. Here are some later Humble stations.

Photo of a page from the guide showing features of the early stations

Earlier Humble Gas Stations

Photo of a page from the guide showing features of the later stations

Later Humble gas stations

You’ll note we tried to use real photos and provide exact locations where ever possible. So gas station fans would be able to visit or map them. That’s one of my pet peeves whenever I read some documents like this, I want to  know where’s the building, I want to go see it. Another part of the guide is that we showed architectural features and colors of gas station brands so you could identify them using these features of the buildings if you didn’t know what they were historically. Here you can see roof features and then window features of different brands.

Then we have for cultural resources management professionals. The guide includes registration requirements and aspects of integrity to determine if properties are eligible for national register. Here you see we used a traffic light colors. Green is for good integrity, go probably eligible for listing. Yellow you might want to take caution, there might be some integrity issues with those buildings. And there are multiple pages of all of these. Then the red is no, just bad. I mean, it may have eligibility under criteria A but this is for criteria C for architecture. Those are the major aspects of our guide.

Scott from ODOT talked briefly about story maps yesterday and we are also using story maps for our mitigation. We recently produced an online story map for gas stations, for independent gas stations, which has information in maps, as you can see here. Then this is an image from our Beyond the Road Campaign. This is an effort to engage the public, familiarize them with a fact that we employ archeologists and historians and share stories about our work. We discovered that once people find out we take responsibility for protecting historian archeology as a DOT the agencies approval rating is going up exponentially. Ultimately we think this outreach will bring more informed people to our public meetings and consultation processes.

Image of a website page, showing a map of texas and locations of independent gas stations in Texas.

Story Map of gas stations in Texas

ESRI’s story map format is GIS based. It allows us to share different informants of mitigation information with the public in ways that aren’t as constrained as our main website, because I don’t know if you’ve been to bureaucratic websites but very hard to navigate. So we’ve developed this instead. Our story map will soon allow crowdsourcing so people can submit photos of historic properties in their towns, like their gas stations.

Then I just have the links for you for the documents I’ve spoken about here today. The field guide is on our toolkit. We also have several other documents on our toolkit that can be useful, such as industrial agricultural property types. We have a guide for motels, we have a guide for agriculture in central Texas. There’s a guide to adobe in Texas. That top link may be useful for you to find several other studies we’ve done. Then we have the story map and then the multiple property nomination for roads and bridges of Texas, which I also worked on. And then the Bankhead and Meridian Highways. The Bankhead and Meridian sites, they’re hosted by our SHPO and they include like ODOT showed yesterday, they have the segments of the roads and then also you can click and see individual pictures come up for each property that was surveyed.

Then I just have a short slide show of some interesting gas stations across Texas. This is likely a Conoco from 1940 era. It’s now a beauty salon. This is Gulf still in use as auto service station, circa 1940 as well. A former Texaco station in Jefferson, Texas. Very tiny. This is a former Magnolia in San Antonio and San Antonio conservation society has produced their own guide to gas stations in San Antonio, so that may be something you want to look at as well. They’ve recently updated their guide to the mid-century as well. This is likely a City Service, circa 1925. Then I will leave you with this. This is one of our petrified wood stations. This one happens to be listed on the national register and it has a restaurant and gift shop component with it as well and it’s near the state line of Oklahoma. That’s my talk for you, I wanted to be short and sweet before lunch.

A station with a facade constructed out of petrified wood.

A petrified wood Texaco Station

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