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


35 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.

    Liked by 2 people

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

    Liked by 2 people

  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.


  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.


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


  7. There were two Pan Am stations along Highway 61 out in the country between Cleveland and Memphis. One was just north of Alligator and the other south of Lula. As far as I know, both buildings are still standing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know for sure the one at Lula is still there.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Highway 61.
          It is about a quarter to a half mile north of the red light where Hwy 49 (from Helena, AR.) and Hwy 61 intersect.

          It is on the east side of the road and is overgrown this time of year but still visible.

          It can easily be seen in the winter.

          We lived in Helena from 1980-1987 and dad said it was abandoned the first time he saw it in 1980.

          It is just the concrete walls left standing…no roof, windows, etc.


        • I went by the one in Lula (Hwy 61 just north of Hwy 49) today and it is too overgrown to see anything.
          Here is a picture I took a year or so ago. I’ll take one this winter when everything is dead.

          Well crap…I don’t know how to attach a picture. Copy and Paste won’t work.


    • There is one in Maud, MS (between Lula and Tunica) that has been converted into a house/duplex.
      I can’t figure out how to post a picture.
      Took a pic today.
      It is located on the southeast corner of Maud Rd and US HWY 61 in Maud.


  8. I don’t know what gas company this building used to be (I guess it had gasoline as well as service bays). It’s on S. State at E. South St. in Jackson, Mississippi. The office area is rounded although it’s hard to see in the Street View picture.,-90.1814661,3a,24y,98.71h,84.99t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sA5dXiHDxwD8dENacFSZwEQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656 Here’s an aerial view.,-90.1809529,55m/data=!3m1!1e3


  9. We peeled the metal off of this station at the corner of 182/Jackson in Starkville today.



  10. Not a Pan-Am station of the era, but it does still sport a Torch and Oval sign.


  11. Pan-Am, as well as American Oil, and Utah Oil, operated as part of Standard Oil of Indiana.

    From the 1920’s until the 1940’s, Pan-Am, Indiana Standard, Utah Oil and Amoco/American each had their own unique sign designs in their respective territories. In 1945, Pan-Am, Indiana Standard, Utah Oil (now simply called “Utoco”) began using the famed “torch and oval” logo design. (American/Amoco, being semi-independent, continued with their own sign and building design, apart from the other subsidiaries.)

    The station designs presented here all date from the 1940’s and 1950’s. The design was indeed unique to Pan-Am. But in the mid 1950’s, Pan-Am began building its stations with a more modern design.

    In 1956, Standard began merging its Pan-Am territory into that of American/Amoco. On August 1, 1958, referred to as “A-day”, the Pan-Am name was officially retired as new “Amoco” signs went up in the southeast.

    I have an Amoco newsletter (the “Trademaker”, Mar/Apr. 1959) that details the rebranding from Pan-Am to Amoco.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My grandfather operated a Pan-Am service station in New Orleans. Per your comments, I would guess that in 1951 the Pan Am logo for his station would have been the “torch & oval” design. Since his station was identical in style to the restored “Olio” restaurant in St Louis, does the blueprint/plan for this style exist in the BP/Amoco archives? Would love to get a copy.


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