Friday is a Gas: Booth Form Gas Station c.1960s-c.1980

This week’s Friday is a Gas post is not about a specific brand of station, but rather a specific type of station form. This week’s stations represent the antithesis of the full-service station: the booth form gas station

Booth form gas station. E. Commerce St. Aberdeen, Mississippi from Google Street View June, 2013 accessed 7-12-2017

Aberdeen, Mississippi has provided a wealth of examples of service stations past.  Another example of this phenomenon is a little booth form station on E. Commerce Street, just east of town.  The 2016 TxDOT Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas does not have a dedicated entry for the gas station booth, but it does provide some context for them.

“By 1977, approximately 30-40 percent of gasoline sold in the United States was self-serve, and in the 1980s, the percentage reached 80-90 percent. The number of convenience stores offering gas also increased in the 1980s to 12 percent of the market, up from only 1 percent in 1974.  This trend, away from full-service to self-serve stations, led to the demise of the traditional gas station and the development of new building forms. The most popular include booth, canopy with booth, oblong box and canopy, and canopy over oblong box forms. The layout and configuration of most gas stations from the period eliminated service bays―a signature feature of conventional gas station design―and instead provided additional interior space to sell snacks, drinks, and other consumable goods.”

The booth-type station represents a transition from the full-service stations as consumers sought out the lowest fuel prices in the OPEC controlled market. Entrepreneurs sought to deliver that low price by removing full service features from stations in the 1970s, but this was before station owners realized around 1980 that selling conveniences and junk food would attract customers and supplement their fuel sales.

This Aberdeen booth station with projecting canopies reminded me of a photo Malvaney shared years ago of a similar station in Flowood.  They appear to be a similar booth with projecting canopies.  The largest notable difference is that at the Aberdeen station, a larger canopy was apparently added to provide better shelter to refueling vehicles.

I would wager that these stations might not have been associated with a specific brand, but rather were pre-fabricated by a manufacturer who sold the stations as kits or might have even delivered them pre-assembled.  The TxDOT guide hints at that saying the form was popular with independent or regional fuel companies in the 1960’s and especially in the 1970s, but they do not provide any photographs of examples for comparison.  Both stations have a detail we saw last week on the batwing Phillips 66 stations; the end-to-end fluorescent tube light fixtures along the canopy edge, which would really accentuate the upward thrust of the canopy after dark. Both stations also have window unit air conditioner units; I bet those little glass boxes could get pretty hot on an August day in Mississippi.

Do you know the story behind these stations or of any other booth form station of the c.1960s-c.1980 era in Mississippi?

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

Categories: Aberdeen, Building Types, Cool Old Places, Historic Preservation, Modernism, Recent Past


4 replies

  1. The Flowood station–I think it might have been called Dodge’s, but I never saw a sign–was an off-brand station, at least as long as I’ve been here (20+ years). Its gas was always 10 cents cheaper than name-brands. I would stop in there to fill up before and after long road trips. It closed maybe 2007 or so? The buildings are still all there, thankfully, but the cheap gas is gone :-(

    Liked by 1 person

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