Shell-shaped Gas Station
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Radiant symbol of a bygone era, when fossil fuel seemed happily inexhaustible, Winston-Salem's shell shaped service station is the last of its kind.
Eight were originally built in the late 1930s by the Quality Oil Company, a Winston-based marketer of Shell Oil. The station, modeled on the brand logo of Royal Dutch-Shell Oil, was constructed of concrete stucco over a bent wood and wire framework.
The clamshell stations serviced gas guzzlers for decades, but were gradually pumped into oblivion by the twin engines of Development and Progress.
The station on Sprague Street survived through the 1970s and '80s as a lawn mower repair place. It slid into disrepair towards the end of the 20th century. A state historic society, Preservation North Carolina, stepped in and restored the faded highway icon in the late 1990s. Today it's used by the organization as a regional office and info center about the station and other preservation projects.
The Shell station is a worthy photo detour, just a little north of Interstate 40.
The bright orange-yellow structure sits on a corner among small businesses and residences, with two tall globe gasoline pumps. A white wooden structure to one side was the station's car wash.