2016 0208 lost117

Anthony Davis/The Herald-Dispatch

Once the location of Pure Oil Co. service station, this cottage-like building is now the home of Courthouse Carwash. This building among others in the area was designed by self-taught architect August Peterson to be more visually appealing in a time that service stations were seen as eyesores.

Editor's note: This is the 117th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.

HUNTINGTON - By the 1920s, more and more Americans were buying automobiles and so there was a corresponding increase in the demand for gasoline. But many communities looked on gas stations as eyesores and even fire hazards.

In response, self-taught architect Carl August Petersen, who worked for Pure Oil Co., came up with a gas station design that was dramatically different from the other stations being built at the time, one he thought would be more readily accepted in urban landscapes.

Peterson's design looked much like an English Tudor cottage with bay windows, home-like entry doors, steep gable roofs and end chimneys. The design proved popular, and from the late 1920s through the 1950s Pure Oil built Peterson-designed stations throughout the Southeastern states it served. In the 1950s, Neighborgall Construction Co. of Huntington built dozens of Pure Oil stations throughout West Virginia and Ohio.

At least a half dozen Petersen-designed stations were built in Huntington.

In 1965, Pure Oil was purchased by the Union Oil Co. of California, which rebranded the Pure stations to sell Union 76 gasoline. In 1992, Union Oil ended its operations in the Southeast.

In addition to its local service stations, Pure Oil operated a Huntington river terminal at Virginia Avenue and W. 13th Street which received petroleum by barge and then shipped it to customers by railroad tank cars or tanker trucks.

Pure Oil also operated a refinery at Cabin Creek in Kanawha County.

Most of the former Pure Oil stations have long since been demolished, but a few survive, remodeled for other uses. In Huntington, a former Pure Oil station at 801 8th St. is now home to the Woelfel & Woelfel law firm and a former Pure station at 5th Avenue and 7th Street is used as a car wash.

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