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Combined Uses

Over the years, filling stations have been combined with other functions, including residences and stores.  These forms are the precursors to modern convenience stores and travel centers where one can purchase gas and groceries and stay for a meal.  Early examples of a combined residence and filling station were typically located in rural areas or near the outskirts of town.  The residence and station were located in the same structure in some examples, and in others, the two were housed separately on the same parcel or lot.

Roadside Highlight: Cunningham House, Filling Station, and Post Office


The Cunningham House and
Filling Station as it
appeared in 2002.
Mead & Hunt photograph.
The Cunningham House and Filling Station complex is a typical rural commercial enterprise.  The complex (determined eligible for the National Register February 2002) is located at the intersection of STH 80 and Main Street in the village of Rockbridge in Richland County.  John G. and Perina Cunningham constructed the gabled-ell residence in 1910.   In 1914 they installed a small store on the lower level of the residence.  John secured an appointment as postmaster of Rockbridge in 1917 and operated a US Post Office in conjunction with the general store.  The Cunninghams added a filling station in 1926, housed in a separate structure located at the corner of the property.

The one-story frame structure located at the front of the property was constructed to meet the needs of traffic generated by the newly completed STH 80.  The station resembles the "house with canopy" form, popular at the time of construction.  The Cunningham Station was locally known as the "Mobil Station," but the Perfect Oil Company leased it during the 1930s.  The station operated until c.1963.  The station is currently vacant, but the Cunningham House remains in use as a residence.

Interested in learning more about Wisconsin gas stations? Check out the new Wisconsin Public Television program that looks at vintage gas stations as icons of architecture, economics and pop culture. Fill'er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Stations is a collaborative effort of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Public Television.
And watch for the Fill 'er Up Companion Book  from WHS Press by Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz. This book visits 60 Wisconsin gas stations still standing today and will be available in 2008.
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