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The Magnolia Service Station, Suffolk, Virginia – Open Day and Night

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  •  The Magnolia Service Station pumped Sinclair gasoline and sold Fisk tires

This small facility, apparently named for the fragrant blossom that grows throughout the South, clearly had large aspirations. Besides the long hours the operator put in, he also offered variety of goods and services that were provided in what have must have been a pretty sleepy little village back then. After he hauled them in from the road, the canny proprietor made food, drink and tobacco available to his customers while they waited for their tires to be repaired or replaced.

Our undated photo shows two different styles of pumps and the homemade wrecker of the type that was quite common in the era. Judging by the pumps and the tow car, our best guess is that this image was made in the early to mid-nineteen-twenties. We invite you to comment on the both the brand of the pumps and make, model and year of the tow car. You can find more posts about one of our favorite subjects on The Old Motor, gas stations from days gone by. The photo is courtesy of

8 responses to “The Magnolia Service Station, Suffolk, Virginia – Open Day and Night

  1. I would say the wrecker is a Manley. The double jointed boom and large diameter gear is a give away. Stations like this were found along main roads even in the 40s. When I see photos like this I can’t help but think of the Mad, Mad World where Jonathan Winters destroys the poor guys’ establishment!!

  2. Magnolia was big in Oklahoma. There’s a very imposing building on “automobile row” (Grand Boulevard between Fourth street and 13th Street) whose facade advertises Magnolia Petroleum. It must have been swept up in the consolidation wars of the past 50 years! On this subject I would like to pose a question of the readers: I have in my petroliana collection a big glass cube which I assume was a paperweight! Etched in one of the facets is the name “Phoenix Refining Co. Tulsa, Oklahoma Top Notch Oils” If any of the readers has information on this please tell me. Attempts to run it down on line have all failed to turn up anything at all.

  3. In this particular case, Magnolia was a place name and former post office in what was then Nansemond County, Virginia, for which the county seat was Suffolk, Virginia, rather than a gasoline brand. Nansemond County became the City of Nansemond, in 1972, and was merged with the City of Suffolk, in 1974, and is all now Suffolk, Virginia.

    The Magnolia community was located about 2 1/2 miles east-northeast from Downtown Suffolk. Suffolk, Virginia, is within the Tidewater area of the Commonwealth of Virginia, about 20 miles west-southwest of Norfolk, Virginia.

    The Southern Oil Company was the first major fuel distributor in the Suffolk area and carried the Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation, or simply Sinclair, line.

    • Patrick, if this is still an active site for you, I hope to hear from you. I am interested in a “filling station” in Magnolia about half way between Suffolk and Portsmouth at an intersection I think around 1940. The gas was just in big drums and was owned by either Willie A Howell or Willie H Howell (I think the younger Willie A.).

      You are the one who knows that Magnolia was a small community, so you,re my best bet. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about and are there any photos?

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