Phillips 66 winged stations on US 66
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Phillips 66, the company
1960s advertisement with the "New Look" gull wing station
The Phillips brothers, Lee Eeldas and Frank, hit oil drilling in Oklahoma in 1905 and expanded their business during the oil boom days of the First World War. In 1917 they founded the Phillips Petroleum Company.
In 1925 they opened their first gas station and in 1927 started refining gasoline in Borger Texas.
They branded their gasoline using "66" and the U.S. Highway shield in their logo, inspired by Route 66.
The company's retail strategy consisted of buying the land, building the service station and leasing it to a local dealer.
Despite the Great Depression in the 1930s, the company survived ang grew. By the 1960s, they decided to revamp the look and design of their stations, and that is when the "gull wing" or "bat wing" stations were created.
The story behind the Gull Wing gas stations
Back in the 1920s and 30s, they had adopted like all other retailers, the unobtrusive cottage style or Tudor Revival style. It blended into the suburban residential setting (The Phillips Mc Lean gas station on Route 66 is an example of this type of buildings).
The 1940s saw a new style emerge, the flat-roof box-shaped (ice-box) gas station, with garage bays and flat canopies over the pump islands. They had large windows and an ample office and sales area.
They were built in the Streamline Moderne style: streamlined, with geometric patterns.
Post-World War II brought a new era of affluence and also the rise of science, technology and the atomic age. Phillips sent their architect Clarence Reinhardt (1906-1993) to Los Angeles to research trends for their new line of service stations. He began working with Phillips in 1928, and had designed most of their buildings over the next two decades.
In California he encountered a different world one of drive-ins. The Tiny Naylors drive in with its upwards slanting roof had a strong influence on his later designs, and he realized that eye-catching designs that evoked modernity, open space and movement attracted customers.
The "Rock Frame" design started to displace ice-box buildings in the early 1950s. This design had large plate-glass windows that were canted (or slanted) and used a curtain wall system combining glass and concrete blocks that were faced with rocks (hence its name "rock frame").
The canted windows reduced the glare of car headlamps and increased the visibility and indoor light.
The Harlequin design
Reinhardt took the design one step further by adding the eye-catching "gull wing" (also known as "bat wing" or "butterfly") canopy in 1956.
Air view of the Pier 66 Marina "New Look" gull wing station, credits
His first design was the Pier 66 marina filling station in Fort Lauderdale, a real estate development project of Phillips. You can see it next to the building in the vintage postcard.
The company decided to define its corporate identity as modern and customer-oriented, and in 1958 it hired Lippincott & Margulies to enhance brand recognition.
L&M defined four characteristics are for strong brand awareness: Memorability, Recognition, Appropriateness, and Uniqueness. They then built on Reinhardt's idea to develop a new station plan for the company. They called it "Harlequin".
The design had an emotional appeal; it was luminous and modern, it conveyed a sense of movement and space. The brightly lit area under the canopy gave customers a sense of security.
It was also practical. The canted glass panes cut the glare and let the customers see inside the office. It resembled an air control tower, it had increased visibility.
The canopy protected the gas pumps and its bright illumination attracted customers during the night. The garage bays and islands chanelled the traffic avoiding cross-traffic.
The bright red and white color scheme, the slanted triangular canopy that thrust into the air supported by a pilon topped with a revolving Phillips 66 shield was easily seen by customers from afar.
The Harlequin style became the company's "New Look" in 1960.
Phillips also aimed at women as a new market segment: the "New Look" design also incorporated a separate restroom for women with their own separate entrance.
By the late 1960s more than 3,000 "New Look" gas stations had been built. They had established the brand nation wide.
The Tide Turns
Then, the mood changed. Americans felt that their highways had become ugly, cluttered with unsightly buildings. The Highway Beautification Act (HBA) passed in 1965 aimed at restoring natural beauty along federal highways by restricting billboards in scenic areas.
The public's attention focused on ungainly gas stations and the major gasoline retailers modified their designs. The 1970s saw the arrival of ranch styled buildings or canopies and offices with mansards. These stations looked residential and blended in with their neighborhoods (just like the cottage stations of the 1920s had done).
The "New Look" Harlequin stations were sold by Phillips as it weathered the oil crisis in the early 1970s, the remaining ones were painted with natural colors, the "V" shaped canopies replaced with low, flat ones. And the buildings "tophatted" with Mansard roofs.
- Triangular-based layout. Some stations were three-sided.
- Stepped design: the garage service bays were taller than the office.
- Sloping V-shaped canopy (some had two, at right angles, giving them a real winglike appearance (the gull wing or batwing stations).
- Large plate glass slanted windows.
- The canopy was supported at its narrow tip by a pole designed to look like an oil derrick. The pole was capped with a Phillips 66 revolving sign.
The Gull Wings on Route 66
Below we will review the surviving Phillips Gull Wing stations -and some recently lost ones too- on Route 66. East to west, starting in Illinois.
East St. Louis Gull Wing station
601 Martin Luther King Dr. & N 6th St.
This is a former Phillips 66 gas station with a four bay garage in East St. Louis.
Another East St. Louis Gull Wing station
E. Broadway and 6th St.
This second Phillips 66 Gull wing is clad in stone, which gives it a curious appearance as you can see below.
The Missouri "New Look" gas stations
St. Louis Phillips Gull Wing
Chippewa & Macklin Ave, Saint Louis, MO
This station is operating as an auto repair shop. Well kept, with its original canopy, plate glass office and two bay garage.
St. Louis Phillips Gull Wing
1300 Vandeventer Ave, St. Louis, MO
This station though still standing, has seen better times. It is quite well kept though.
19 W 5th St, Eureka, MO. Just past the overpass (map).
As you enter Eureka from the east, head west after leaving I-44 at exit 264.
This former Phillips Petroleum Co. gas station is now a location of Telle Tire (tire shop), but it has kept the main office with its canted plate glass windows, the garage, and canopy intact.
Read more about Route 66 in Hazelgreen MO
Drive 0.7 mi west from I-44's exit 145 to see the Old Service Station next to the Tavern.
To your left among the shrubs and trees arwe the ruins of the former gas station.
Vegetation overgrowing the "New Look" Hazelgreen station
This is probably the "gas" mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946, though at that time it would have been an ice-box style station. The gas station has a triangular shaped canopy with a red trim. There is a two-bay garage and the building was constructed in concrete blocks (probably the original one).
Behind it stands a tall tower with vines growing on it. There is no singpost standing at the apex of the canopy. Itwas abandoned around 1971.
Phillips 66 Gull Wings in Oklahoma
SE corner of Excelsior Ave and S Wilson, Vinita OK
It has the canopy with its supporting pylon, the office with ample slanted glass windows and the two-bay garage with its glassed doors
Bristow Phillips 66 Gull Wing station
301 E 1st Ave, Bristow
The old Bristow station is now Okie Auto Sales, and still has the canopy with its supporting apex column. The office has been modified and has lost the plate glass windows. The garage, with two bays has also been modified, losing its original doors.
The station appears in a Satellite Motel postcard. Credits
Erick Phillips 66 station
On the western side of Erick, next to the Satellite Motel, are the remains of a Phillips 66 Bat Wing gas station.
The image shows part of a Satellite Motel postcard and in it, you can see the gas station.
The slanted V-shaped canopy is typical of the Gull Wing stations built by Phillips 66 in the early 1960s.
In the street view (click image to see it) you can see that the office also had canted plate glass windows, which were also part of this modern "Googie" design. The canopy covered the pump island and you can make out the circular base of the pylon that supported its apex (red arrow).
Oklahoma City Phillips 66 "New Look" gas stations
You can visit the Gull Wing Phillips Gas Station just five blocks to the south of Route 66 in west-central Oklahoma city.
This one seems to have operated as a gas station until recently. It still has the original V-shaped canopy, the slanted plate glass windows and the garage with glass windows on its doors.
"Pinos" service station
4843 NW 23rd St, OKC
The second "Gull Wings" in this area is currently "Pinos Tire Shop". Unlike the other station, this one lacks the canted plate glass windows, giving the impression that it was a revamped ice-box station by adding the gull wing canopy.
There are four gull wings in Amarillo, one on the eastern side of town, the other three on the western side.
Seminole 66 Station
At 3207 E Amarillo Blvd. (Route 66), it was built in 1964 and known as Seminole station. Later it became Monterey Auto Sales and now Alpha Omega. It is in good shape, with its Canopy still in place and a two bay service area.
Advertisement of Herb Martin's Phillips Gull Wing Station OKC. Mark Potter
Martin's Phillips 66 Station
3821 West Sixth
This station dates back to 1963 when the former Tudor Revival cottage style service station on the site was demolished.
The original Phillips station was built in the 1930s, and was designed to look like a cottage in this residential neighborhood.
In the 1930s Route 66 ran in front of the station. Its first owner was Chet Cain who after becoming ill, sold it to Herbert Martin in 1944.
Herb Martin ran the station until 1991, he used to help those traveling along Route 66, and gave some of them gas, or let them spend the night at the cottage styled station.
The advertisement in the photo, states that the station was on the "Same Location since 1944" and lists all the services it offered, from washing and waxing, to complete auto repair. It was ran by both Herbert and his wife.
We have included two great photos from Tales of the Texas Panhandle show the original cottage style station, with Martin's name over the door ("Herbert A Martin"), and the later gull-wing station in the early 1960s.
The original Herbert Martin Phillips station
1963 photo of Herbert Martin Phillips station
The same station nowadays:
On the 66 Beltline built in 1956 around north and western Amarillo you will see two other Gull-Wings.
Jay's Phillips 66
Ahead, to your right at 818 W Amarillo is another Phillips 66 Gull wing station. This one is quite atypical, it lacks service bays and has a small office and a mini-gull-wing canopy. It was known as Jay's 66, and later was a Tire store. It was built in 1962.
Arthur Super Phillips 66
At 3703 W Amarillo Blvd. is Arthur's Super Phillips 66 it was built in 1956. It has two service bays with projecting service bay walls that are slanted to the side. The "V-shapted" canted canopy has been removed but you can see the spot where the pylon that held its tip up was located (red arrow).
Wildorado Phillips Torn down
Wildorado: razed Gull Wing Phillips 66
In Wildorado, TX, there was a Gull Wing station, but it was torn down c. 2015.
See this Street View of the station before it was razed.
Adrian: Larry's Phillips 66 Station
When I-40 was built, traffic stopped flowing by Tommy Lovless' original Cafe and service station (Bent Door) on the old Route 66 alignment in Adrian, TX. He built two new ones, a cafe (the second one) and another Phillips 66 gas station.
The old gas station is still standing, and the current Valero gas station office and store is in fact the original Cafe (see the stone facade on its western tip, part of the old cafe, marked with a red arrow in the images below).
The gas station's oblong box with two garage bays and a plate glass office is still standing, now vacant. The steel pole of the original sign is also standing (now with a Valero sign).
The postcard above says "Tommy's restaurant & Larry's service center Phillips 66 products - Relax and enjoy home style cooking and western hospitality. Good coffee and home made pies. Interstate 40 & Highway 66, Adrian Texas."
The canopy and its tip pole have been removed, but are clearly visible in both vintage images.
Gull Wings in New Mexico
Tucumcari Phillips Gull Wing
350 W Tucumcari Blvd. Tucumcari NM
The former station has survived in very good shape, currently it is a lube and tire shop.
The glass garage doors and office are in perfect conditions, as are the canopy and pylon.
Albuquerque Phillips 66 stations
As expected, a city as large as Albuquerque, has two of these gull wing gas stations:
#1 Albuquerque Gull Wing
7800 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque
This Phillips 66 gas station is now an auto dealership, Fulton Motors. They have been selling all type of light trucks and vans since 1960.
#2 Albuquerque Gull Wing
1023 central Ave NE
Razed in 2018. Another Route 66 icon that has been lost to progress.
The Santa Fe Gull Wing station today. Click for St. View
1863 Cerrillos Rd. Santa Fe, NM
The Phillips 66 gas station from the 1960s is currently an auto dealership.
The other in eastern Flagstaff is still there, in very good shape.
Phillips 66 Gull Wing station
3122 E Rte. 66, Flagstsaff
This early 1960s "New Look" gull wing station is still open, now as Mike's Bikes and Montevista Marine. See the original inclined glass plate windows in the office and the slanting V-shaped canopy.
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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat
David W. Moore, Jr. and Shonda Mace A Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas, Historical Studies Report No. 2003-03 2016 Update
Cliff Leppke, Vanishing Points: Phillips' Postwar 'New Look' Service Stations. Society for Commercial Archeology Journal 23, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 4–11; Phillips 66, Part 1