What can you do with an old gas station? How about live in it?
Neighborhood gas and service stations are largely a thing of the past: the large-scale convenience store located on main drags or interstate off-ramps seems to have replaced them. Just because the businesses are gone doesn’t mean the buildings are, though, and many of these older structures have unique architectural and design features. Might make for a good business location with some renovation, but a home? It would take an artist’s eye to transform such a structure into a place someone wanted to live.
Fortunately, New Orleans resident Robert Guthrie is an artist. And, for years, he’s had his eye on the old filling station in his Mid-City neighborhood. When the property went up for sale in 2003, Guthrie bought it, and began the renovation of the 1918 building into a home and silk screen studio. Now, after eight years, one major hurricane, and a change in medium (he no longer does silk screening), Guthrie’s finished and moved in to his “new” home.
A photo gallery at the Times-Picayune website shows how Guthrie maintained the original spirit of the space while transforming it. A collector of “automobilia and petroliana” (yep, real words), Guthrie used pieces from his collection to highlight the building’s history (while avoiding a “theme restaurant” feel). He kept items such as car lifts and garage doors intact while adding skylights, a commercial-style kitchen, and planters where gas pumps once stood.
While I haven’t seen Guthrie’s home in person, this kind of inspiration seems catching in Louisiana – I have seen a similar renovation in my home town of Lake Charles (though I can’t find any reference to it). If you know of other instances of repurposing service stations into living spaces (in Louisiana or not), share them with us.
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