Every time I pass by, I slow down and look at a corner Shell gas station that is for sale on Thomas and Franklin streets. My imagination takes over and a successful restaurant materializes. The reuse of old stations started to grow in 2002, when Congress authorized the EPA to use its brownfield funding for cleanup of properties with low risk underground storage tanks (for fuel).
“Gas stations are almost always on corner sites, they have good visibility and accessibility, so they make great locations for restaurants,” said Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of architecture and urban design at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of “Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.”
Dunham-Jones, who studies adaptive reuse of many types of buildings, said gas stations repurposed into eateries tend to be near residential neighborhoods. I stood on the paved surface where there is room for plenty of parking, the busy traffic passing by. I wanted to call out, “Do you see what I see?”
Here are photographs of this cool little building. Though the interior is untouched, as seen through the windows with my hands pressed against the glass, the exterior has been gentrified (don’t get me started) with a nice fresh tasteful paint job.
In addition, I’ve added some photos of repurposed gas stations in the world beyond Rocky Mount. Do you recognize what stations they once were? I bet you never thought when you awakened this morning that old gas stations would suddenly become of interest, but how can you resist? Go look at this fun building and dream a little dream with me.
Olio, St. Louis, MO
In 1937, this art deco Standard Oil Station was owned by a man named Mr. Kinworthy. Today, original subway tiles and salvaged brick serve as reminders of the restaurant’s former function.
I have used this photograph before but isn’t it perfect for my dream gas station interior?
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3 thoughts on “Do You SEE What I See? – For Sale – The Gas Station On The Corner of Thomas and Franklin Streets”
I worked in Tarboro for CT&T back in 1969-1976. We often went to Cotton Guill’s on break or for lunch. It used to be a gas station. It looked like one back in those days. Obviously, it was remodeled to look more like a restaurant since I was there.
Great article. Do you remember the gas station turned coffee shop in Elizabeth City that we visited? I loved that place when we lived there.
In Athens, Georgia an old gas station now is a Taco Bar with seating inside where the grease racks once were and an outdoor patio where the gas pumps once stood! In Ann Arbor, Michigan an old corner gas station on Main Street serves as a high-end beer depot and many people stop in after work to enjoy a beer and catch up with friends. In Chicago an old neighborhood gas station can be seen from the Elevated Red Line—no longer selling gas but it made a fantastic house with amazing views of the city. Endless possibilities for adaptive reuse are what makes city structures so important and far more interesting than strip malls and cheap hotels. In the three instances above these adapted gas stations serve a purpose that connects with the community–building strong examples of reuse and creating positive change.