This former Standard Oil gas station built around 1930 in Cañon City, Colorado is currently occupied by an antique store. A 2008 National Park Service Preservation Brief notes that beginning in the 1920s, gas companies began designing gas stations to look more like residential buildings to help them blend into their surrounding neighborhoods.
The move toward the house-type station was also a sign of growing competition within the oil industry as businesses worked to garner customer trust and loyalty. Companies developed distinctive brands and signature building forms. Pure Oil, for example was well-known for its English Cottage stations, while Standard Oil favored Colonial Revival designs. The effort to develop iconic signage and stations foreshadowed all-encompassing branding campaigns that dominated gas station design later in the century.
Chad Randl, The Preservation and Reuse of Historic Gas Stations. Preservation Briefs 46.
On the corner of Mason Avenue in the bayside town of Cape Charles, Virginia, is this abandoned Pure Oil gas station. Pure Oil designed these cottage-like filling stations in the late 1920s, and variations on this theme were constructed for several decades. This shows the design at its most simple form. The station still has the original “Pure Oil Blue” roof and most of its original features (compare it with the two historic photos from Pennsylvania and New York below). The three-bay garage on the side is likely a later addition.
Carl August Petersen created this Tudor Revival/English Cottage design in 1927 with the goal of presenting their Pure Oil as a safe, clean, and welcoming place to get gasoline. The standardized design also served to identify their brand to consumers, no matter where they were traveling.
The Pure Oil company was bought by Union Oil in the 1960s, and by the early 1970s, Pure Oil gas stations were rebadged as Union 76 stations. The Mason Avenue station remained in use as a gas station until fairly recently. A second Pure Oil building survives on the outskirts of Cape Charles. Many other Pure Oil stations have been repurposed into restaurants or for other uses, and several have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including a 1937 station in Geneva, Illinois. More examples can be seen at RoadsideArchitecture.