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.
I have a feeling that many residents in the small city of Cloquet, Minnesota routinely drive by the R.W. Lindholm gas station, which opened in 1958, without having any idea that it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It wasn’t just any old gas station, but a one-of-a-kind structure that the great American architect envisioned would be central to his vision of the hypothetical Broadacre City, “a decentralized urban landscape that many have interpreted as a sort of super-suburbia,” with the gas station expanding beyond its traditional utility and taking on a larger social role in the city. While this vision thankfully never came to pass, certain elements of the design were adopted: “…it helped popularize the now ubiquitous overhang, and other elements (including an angled plan that afforded sight lines, and generous, slanted windows) were appropriated for Phillips 66 stations across the country.” Okay, class is over, but before you go someone needs to update Cloquet’s Wikipedia page to highlight this piece of architectural and design history. It’s worth bragging and boasting about!