Throwback Thursday – Bowling Green’s first gas station turns 100

A Bowling Green landmark is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year. Situated on the corner of College and East 7th streets, the restored 1921 Standard Oil Station shares a century of history. Once part of Bowling Green’s Modern Automotive District, this filling station’s origin marks the birth of road tripping and the family car.

Standard Oil was originally established by John D. Rockefeller and Henry M. Flagler, and was one of the world’s largest multinational corporations until the U.S. Supreme Court broke it up in 1911. That same year, Kentucky Standard Oil was founded, selling kerosene, stove oil, axle grease and lubricants. 

As the Model T Ford became more affordable and mass produced, and other auto companies experimented with their own models, oil companies created this filling station model in the early 1920s to ensure the reliability and quality of gasoline. The domestic style filling station like this one was built to blend into the neighborhood landscape at a 45-degree angle entrance on street corners—it made for easy entries and exits for new motorists.

This station was restored in 2008 as part of Circus Square Park. The pumps are replicas of Wayne 615 visible 10-gallon pumps, and Crown Gasoline was indeed sold here, in both ethyl and regular. The Eco-44 air pump filled both auto and bicycle tires. The Standard Oil Station sign is a replica of the original from College Street.

Bowling Green’s Modern Automotive District had car dealerships, repair garages, and filling stations situated within the same few blocks. The Standard Oil Company of Kentucky purchased this specific lot in July 1921 for this filling station. This was Bowling Green’s very first gas station. It operated until 1956, when it became the Butler used car lot.