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Gasoline Station Series: Four Interesting Pre-War Images

Today we return to the Gasoline Station Series with four new photos of facilities located in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. The expandable circa-1940 lead image contains a view of the “Formal Opening” day at a small Shell Oil Company filling station located in Lexington, Kentucky at the intersection of Union and Henley streets. The local Shell distributor supported the opening with signage, streamers, and a free incentive to stop in and purchase some gasoline.

Share with us what you find if interest in these images and view over two-hundred and fifty other Gasoline Station Series photographs posted here in the past. The pictures are courtesy of the Knox County Public Library, and The Indiana Album.

The Fountain City Garage near Knoxville, Tennessee, note the man digging a hole on the far right of the photo.

  • The Broadway Viaduct Tire Company Knoxville, Tennessee sold Gulf Oil Company products, the photo is circa-1930.

  • A service station garage interior located in Danville, Indiana circa late-1930s, note the tin ceiling panels.

23 responses to “Gasoline Station Series: Four Interesting Pre-War Images

  1. The last photo the front two cars are Pontiac’s. The one under the “Shellbrication” sign is a ’39. I unsure of the year the other Pontiac opposed to the ’39.

    The first photo shows a 1940 Oldsmobile, a Ford from the late 30’s and not sure about the 3rd car. I bet those glasses went fast because a lot of those cars had gas tanks that held 12 to 15 gallons and all you needed was 5 gallons!

  2. In the lead photo and Item 1 of 4, of the two with their hood up, on the left, likely a ’40 Olds…probably a Series 60 in a Club Coupe and on the right a ’40 Ford Tudor.

    In Item 4 of 4, looks like a ’39 Pontiac Cabriolet on the right and a tow-tone ’39 Olds Convertible Coupe farther back, with maybe a ‘36 Dodge on the left.

    • I own a FB service station Group David the publisher was a member of, Ameristation . We occasionally have side by side comparisons .

  3. They gave away a lot of glassware during the depression,not just at gas stations either.a. Lot of it. Was so called carnival glass,if you put a piece in a modern dishwasher you soon found out why they could afford to give it away back then.

    • Chris, not only during the depression, but into the 1950’s as well. I’m old enough to remember free glasses with a fill-up at stations in my hometown. They kept you coming back so you would collect the whole set: Highballs, Juices, etc. and then when you had the whole set you had to have the wood or wire rack to hold them (It may have been a communist plot) (joke).

      BTW there are collectors who would argue that depression glass and carnival glass are two different things, but the idea behind them both, you have right. (And you’re also right about putting them in the dishwasher, that’s a no-no.)

  4. The Fountain City Garage could certainly use a little TLC, but buildings are like old cars–if you use them a lot, you probably don’t notice all the minor wear items until they really add up. Perhaps the workman is digging a pit for an outdoor lift–what’s the metal “frame” next to the hole? Looks like the garage was a gathering place for the men of the town, too, right next door to the cafe. Less formal photos such as this one capture more about the scene than the professional promotional shots in Knoxville, etc.

  5. Bill Schnefel, I typed in Broadway and Central street intersection in Knoxville, TN on Google and a picture of the Broadway Viaduct store came right up. This was a classy looking place when I was growing up nearby in the 50s and 60s !

  6. I pumped gas at a Shell station back in the late 60’s while I was in high school and remember giving out promotional perks like glassware . 8 gallons minimum. The last Shell promotion I remember was handing out state coins in sealed plastic packets in a bingo like contest. You used the coins to fill the card to redeem cash or Shell products. I remember the station owner complaining about how much the promotions cost him . This was the time of gas price wars and profits made at the pump were very slim.

  7. The middle car in the first photo is a 1934 Plymouth; in the second photo the coupe is a Chevrolet circa 1933; the third photo the car heading towards the photographer is a twenties Lincoln.

  8. I did a little dictective work on the first photo and I don’t think it is from Lexington KY. Google can’t find either street and my mother in law who has lived there for decades has no recollection of the station or the streets. I wonder where the gas station is. Zeke

    • There is a Henley Street which is also US Route 441 leading south out of Knoxville. Today that street is very wide.,, multiple lanes. Just east of Henley there is a Union Ave SW on the south side of the Knoxville Fire Department City Office . That Union Ave today dead ends just east of and does not intersect with Henley. I could imagine that in the early 40s when the photo was taken Henley was only two lanes wide and Union intersected It.

  9. Going with a date of 1935, the Fountain City Garage was at 4606 N. Broadway in Fountain City. The proprietor was William S. Hensley. There was a small cafe in the station as you can just make out the words Keith’s Cafe in the window at the left. The station is long gone, but it looks like it was right where Broadway (Route 441) and Interstate 640 (Hwy 25) intersect. Note the small car at the back right that has been converted to a pickup truck.

  10. I loved the way places like Fountain City Garage looked and were then, we still had that type of garage here in small town western New York in the 1960’s. Nothing slick or pretentious, just good experienced mechanics who could fix anything.

    The Danville, IN garage had two ’39 Pontiac convertible coupes on display in what looks like a very clean shop. Wonder if this was a grand opening of the dealership in a new location.

    The late 1920’s Lincoln sedan passing the Broadway Viaduct Gulf station has the slant windshield and rear-hinged doors of series-custom bodies by both coachbuilders Judkins and Willoughby which were catalogued in addition to Lincoln factory-built styles.

  11. In the lead photo, I love those two young ladies decked out in their bright white skirts, uniform vests and caps. I wonder what their function was since you can see a service station attendant wiping down the windshield of a mid 30’s Plymouth on the left? Handing out the water glasses I guess, which was only a one day giveaway. I can well remember when there used to always be service station attendants at every gas station and wish we still had them even if it would mean paying five cents more for a gallon of gas at the pump, as sometimes you don’t feel like getting out of your car and start doing all the pumping work by yourself.

  12. The lead image is actually an old Shell Station at Henley Street (Chapman Highway) and current Fort Dickerson Road in Knoxville, TN. In later years this was G&R Automotive. It’s all gone now.

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