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Turning Points Features

When romance and style came with a full tank of gas

While driving excitement is today intimately tied to the car itself, in the 1920s, fantastic-style filling and service stations provided attention-grabbing design and romance for motorists traveling Wisconsin roadways. Functioning as 3-dimensional billboards, thematic gas stations were readily identifiable for their resemblance to pyramids, windmills, and tepees, among other designs.

In Wisconsin, Wadham's Oil Company used the intrigue of the East to create an ornate pagoda-inspired chain of stations across the state. Over 100 stations were constructed betwen 1917 and 1930, and though varying in floor plan, all featured the red-stamped metal roof with flared eaves. The Wadhams pagoda represented a pioneering effort to tie architecture to corporate image, a move that would soon become a staple of fast-food architecture.

Posted September 22, 2005
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