Friday is a Gas: Humble, Enco, Esso, and Exxon c.1960-c.1970

former Service Station. Market St. Pascagoula, Jackson Co. June 2016

I had planned for a post on this station later in the Friday is a Gas series, but due to the tornado damage this building suffered last Friday, I thought it might be good to highlight it in hopes of its restoration.  This station with three bays and an attached canopy is residential-like in scale with a long, low form that suggests Ranch Style influences.  It was built as an Exxon service station c.1960-c.1970.  The Jackson County land records give this station a c.1974 construction date.

The TxDOT Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas describes this as ‘Ranch House [style] with Canopy’.  The Shell Oil Company was the first to introduce a Ranch style gas station in 1960 at Millbrae, California.  The design type soon spread across the United States being implemented by several different companies. Ranch-style gas stations presented a more residential character that blended in with residential neighborhoods of the postwar housing boom. You might remember this was the same theory behind the Tudor & Period Revival Style stations similar to the Cities Service Stations c.1930 – c.1950.  This residential design theory was rejected by some brands that embraced the Moderne & Modern Style “Icebox” Stations (1937-c.1955).

This specific station design was branded as Humble, Enco, Esso, or Exxon stations.  Standard Oil of New Jersey with its subsidiary brands Humble, Enco (Energy Company) and Esso (phonetic version of the initials SO for Standard Oil) all went through a name change to Exxon that took effect January 1, 1973.  This would jive with our c.1974 construction date and the information that our Pascagoula station was built as a Exxon.  The 2016 TxDOT Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas further describes these Humble, Enco, Esso, and Exxon stations of the c.1960-c.1970 era as:

-Low-pitched, cross-gabled roof
-Brick (or sometimes stone) and wood exterior finishes
-Attached canopy is common but some lack canopy; still other examples have a second canopy projecting off the side of the office.
-Front-gabled roof over canopy is seamless extension of roof over main building
-Angled wall extends from rear of office and supports canopy (not visible in this example)
-Decorative beams extend from deep eaves
-Large fixed transoms in gable-end above service bays
-Wide eaves

What do you think?  Do you have a similar Humble, Enco, Esso, Exxon station of this style in your neck of the woods?

Did you enjoy this post on a Mississippi Gas Station? Consider checking out these other “Friday is a Gas” posts.

Categories: Cool Old Places, Disasters, Historic Preservation, Pascagoula, Recent Past


6 replies

  1. This is so interesting–sad to hear it was damaged! Love the “Ranch style with a canopy” description.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It isn’t in to bad a shape all things considered. The repair will depend on whether or not insurance was in place, and how badly the owner wants the building.

      The descriptions from the TXDOT guide are great! I am starting to recognize the regional limitations of the guide though. Would love for the opportunity to produce a guide like this for Mississippi.

      I have to laugh though. This style of station does somewhat remind me of the Brady Bunch houses Mr. Brady was turning into all types of other businesses.


      • TxDOT seems to be the funding source on a lot of preservation related studies – they’ve done a comprehensive bridge survey (which I know other states in the region also have) and they’ve partnered with the Texas Historical Commission (SHPO) on studies of two historic highways in Texas (and I hear they plan to do some more) in addition to the guise you’ve shared with the MissPres bunch.

        You think MDOT would fund a project like the Texas gas station guide?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I will have to take a look at that guide! Some states have really great materials that I wish we had in other states. Georgia has a beautiful Ranch style guide that I like to use, luckily trends became more national around then!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I seem to recall a very similar former service station located at the SW corner of Jefferson and High streets here in Jackson when I moved here in the late 1990s. It was converted to a restaurant that I enjoyed because they had good, cheap spaghetti lunches fit for my tiny budget. Unfortunately, the property was bought by First Baptist and the building was demolished, possibly as early as 2000 or 2001, well before I ever would have thought about taking a picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had forgotten about this example. It was in Ocean Springs, having been torn down ca. 2015 for a church parking lot. It is a smaller building than the Pascagoula example having only two mechanics bays and one pump island covered by the canopy which was enclosed sometime after the building ceased being a gas station. It was built as an Enco station but became a Exxon c. 1974.


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