Friday is a Gas: Pan Am/Amoco Stations c.1930-c.1940

Per Malvaney’s request and the plethora of examples received in the comments to last Friday’s post, this week we’ll focus on the Pan Am/ Amoco Stations of the c.1930s-c.1940s.  Unfortunately this station type is not listed in the handy-dandy 2016 TxDOT Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas so I’ll have to wing it a little bit.

I am a little vague on the details, but the Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company (Pan Am) merged with the American Oil Company (Amoco) in the early 1920s, and depending on varying factors, stations might carry the Pan Am branding or Amoco, or sometimes both.  The founder of Pan Am Edward L. Doheny was the inspiration for Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil! and the 2007 film There Will Be Blood.

With their rounded edges and wide banding containing five lines that are intermittently broken to create a sign board, these stations are deeply rooted in the Streamline Moderne Style.  The banding further accentuates these stations’ curved corners.  They are usually constructed of concrete block that is left exposed or finished with stucco. The Teague & Icebox designs appear to take hints from the International Style, in addition to Streamline Moderne, which leads me to wager that the Pan Am/ Amoco Stations design predate the Teague & Icebox designs.

The stations in Senatobia, and McComb (above) appear as pretty standard examples: a projecting service bay with a stepped-back business office space.  The Senatobia station has had its service bay door(s) on the left replaced with windows and a hipped roof added. Some of these stations have a curved awning over the entry doors; an example of this can be seen on the Senatobia station above and the Columbus station below.

One variant of the design contains a curved wall for the business office, rather than just a curved corner.  I don’t know if this is an earlier type or later.  An example of this can be seen in the below service station example in Aberdeen, Mississippi. To the west of the station, the signpost and frame-work for the back-lit sign remains, with its iconic oval shape pierced by a lit torch.  This logo is appropriately refereed to as the Torch and Oval.

Step backs are another design feature used with this station type–this is most noticeable in the larger versions.  These larger stations often were multi-purpose truck stop type buildings, containing auto repair, fueling services, and often a restaurant.   These larger buildings occur in both cities and rural areas, seen in these examples in Columbus, Marks, Pascagoula, Prentiss, Raleigh, and Silver Lake,

This example in Roxie, Mississippi (below) appears to have had its design adapted to a sloping site. It is hard to tell from the image but perhaps the service bay is entered from a lower level at the rear of the building?  This station also features an awning that may or may not be original.  This station does not look long for this world, but I’ve seen just as bad and worse building brought back if someone puts their mind to it.

former Pan Am Station Roxie, Franklin County Mississippi June 2016

Meridian, Ocean Springs, and Vicksburg have demolished a Pan Am / Amoco Station within the past 10+ years.

These stations appear all over the state.  Do you have one in your neck of the woods?  Was it branded as a Pan Am or an Amoco? Do you know of one still operating as a service station?  If so let us know in the comments below.



Categories: "To . . . and Back", Aberdeen, Building Types, Columbus, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, McComb, Meridian, Modernism, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Prentiss, Senatobia, Vicksburg

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16 replies

  1. I would say for someone who was “winging it a bit” you did a fine flight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here is a photograph of the former Amoco on Washington Street in Vicksburg. When I took this photograph in 1994 on Polaroid 4×5″ sepia film, the old gasoline station was being used as an apartment.

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  3. Another view of the now-demolished station on Washington Street in Vicksburg.

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  4. Though their numbers are diminishing, these stations once dotted the South. There was one of the truck stop types on U.S. 80 in the Pearl area. Also, I walked through the abandoned but fairly intact shell of one on U.S. 51 on the site of the Levis’ plant built north of Jackson in the late 1970’s. It was demolished at the time of the construction. It was a variant seen in quite rural areas with a center door and two windows left and right, no service bays under roof. Several companies specialized in more rural and remote locations, and Pan Am/Amoco was certainly one of them. There are a few specimens in neighboring Alabama that essentially sit on the edge of agricultural fields on state secondary roads. A huge number of these have been recycled, either as built or incorporated into new construction.

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  5. There’s another one outside Dockery Farms on Highway 8 in Sunflower County, and another near the ruins of Bryant’s Grocery in Money, Leflore County.

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  6. There is one in hazlehurst mississippi but I would have to research which company…

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