Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Magnolia/Mobil Service Station

This building can easily be identified as a former service station by the familiar, bright red Pegasus perched on top!  It no longer welcomes clients to drive up for a fill up and a check under the hood, but it is a functioning business in a building that has been preserved and protected.
The station was built in 1934 by Dallas based Magnolia Petroleum Company.  The local architectural firm of Adams and Adams designed the station in the then popular Spanish Colonial Revival style. An article in the San Antonio Light newspaper in 1937 described it as "one of the most beautiful and picturesque service stations in the Southwest."

In 1985 Mobil Oil sold the building. The San Antonio Conservation Society negotiated with Mobil Oil and the new owner to protect the Pegasus sign.  The resulting agreement allowed for the first time for the company's trademark to be on permanent loan to a private entity:  the Society's Foundation. A separate agreement between the owner and the Society requires the owner to maintain and preserve the Pegasus sign.

An early picture shows what appears to be pumps located along this side of the building.  The picture is small and details are hard to distinguish, but it appears that the protrusions from the top, left side were posts that formed a type of pergola canopy.  From the picture I can't tell if there were service bays, but I can't imagine a service station from this era not having at least one service bay.

An article in the September 1, 2012 San Antonio Express News stated that there was a parlor where ladies could sit while having their car serviced.  The original tile from the parlor can still be seen in the store today. (Note to self, time to go shopping and check! Sloan Hall is a delightful gift shop)

The Magnolia Petroleum Company had been established in 1911 and all shares of stock acquired by Standard Oil Company of New York in 1925.  When Socony merged with Vacuum Oil Company to form Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, Magnolia became an affiliate of the new company.  In 1959 Magnolia merged with Socony Mobil and its operations became  part of Mobil Oil Company.
I have always associated the Pegasus trademark with Magnolia Petroleum Company; however, one source I checked indicated that it was a trademark of Vacuum Oil prior to the merger, so I'll have to do some more research. The 30 x 50 foot twin Pegasus's that revolved for many years atop the Magnolia Petroleum Building in Dallas were re-built and reinstalled and re-lit on New Years Eve 1999.  They no longer revolve due to the considerable age of the mechanism, but the Pegasus is considered a beloved, permanent fixture of the Dallas night skyline.

I'm just thankful that we didn't loose this treasure and that steps have been taken to protect and preserve it for the future.

1 comment:

  1. What a great building! It has been amazingly repurposed--I would live in it.