Friday is a Gas: Cities Service Stations c.1930 – c.1950

 

former Cities Service Station Aberdeen, Mississippi

Cities Service was founded in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1910 as a public utility. The company operated natural gas, lighting, ice and other utility type services in major municipal locations during the early part of the century.

– A Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas, 2016

These Cities Service gas stations were designed to have a residential-like quality that draws from the Period Revival or Tudor Revival style with steeply pitched, cross-gabled roofs. In his book American Homes, Lester Walker describes the Period Revival Style as “designed by conservative architects who looked to styles of proven worth and popular appeal for solutions to the current problems of…design.”  The gable ends typically included a small Cities Service logo near the tip of the gables. These logos appear to be applied to Milk Glass globes that could be lit like lanterns from the building interior.  These stations lacked a canopy over the pumping area, but did often have a standalone service bay that was open on the sides.

Rendering of a Cities Service Station from TxDOT Field Guide to Gas Stations. 2016

According to A Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas this design was continued by Cities Service through 1950. According to the company’s website, Cities Service would eventually become Citco in 1965.  Below are some Google Street View locations for former Cities Service Stations here in Mississippi.

Aberdeen
Built some time after November of 1938, this might be the best conserved station of the Cities Service stations I am aware of in Mississippi.  It retains both the station and the separate service bay (with original metal roof), along with the light poles that flanked the gas pumps.

Bude
Built prior to 1951, this poor dude in Bude looks to have recently been deprived of his Cities Service gable logo lanterns and even the nondescript gable vent above the service bay.  Interestingly the service bay looks to have an enclosed portion at its rear.  I am curious if this is a later version of this style of station, as on the station itself the picture windows on the left side of the buildings have been placed on the corner.

Waynesboro
This station has obviously been added on to over the years, but I’m not sure if the additions were related to the service of automobiles.

Wesson
This station was extant by April of 1939.  There were two underground tanks, and the free-standing service bay is no longer standing but was located to the north-east of the station.

Winona
This station was built between Nov. 1932 and May of 1940.  In the front gable the company logo is visible, while the side gable contains a round logo with a block type font spelling “Cities Service” There were three gas tanks below ground, possibly for three separate gas pumps.   With the narrow corner lot the free-standing service bay was located behind the station off of Sterling Ave. and the footprint can still be seen in the concrete.

According to A Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas these are some identifying features of Cities Service Stations:
• Steeply pitched cross-gabled roof, with centrally placed gable on front facade
• Brick exterior finish
• Company logo embedded in front and side gable ends
• Single-door entrance centrally placed under front gable
• Large display windows on either side of entrance
• Tudor Revival stylistic influences

Do you have a Cities Service or other Period or Tudor Revival service station in your neck of the woods?



Categories: Aberdeen, Historic Preservation, Wesson, Winona

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19 replies

  1. Of course, the quintessential neighborhood filling station was the Shady Nook Conoco at 944 Popular Street in Jackson. It’s still there, but hasn’t seen a thirsty car in almost fifty years. It was designed in 1928 by the N. W. Overstreet firm. But sadly the most beautiful service station was on the corner of N. State and Amite in Jackson and has been replaced what appears to be FEMA trailers. It fronted the Standard Oil of Kentucky state headquarters building, which thanks to someone in the State of Mississippi government with foresight, has saved a beautiful building from demolition. The stone and tile roof was what set the station apart from the run-of-the-mill station and featured a huge navy blue Standard Oil sign that ran perpendicular to State Street.

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  2. And don’t forget the Blue and White in Tunica.

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  3. This one in Newton, MS with a high-pitched gable roof has always intrigued me, although it doesn’t have the front cross gable.

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  4. How ’bout this one at Crosstown (Junction of US 145/Gloster St. and Main St.) in Tupelo?

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  5. I found one! 3700 5th Street, Meridian, MS.

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  6. A substantially modified Cities Services station in Natchez. An addition to the south, and the replacement of the front gable with a canopy make this difficult to identify at first, but the pitch of the roof and the small gable opening visible on the Franklin St. elevation, along with the separate service bay make this recognisable as a possible Cities Service station.

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