Shown is a former gas station in Brewton. Everybody has seen them—the simple old gas stations that once dispensed full service with a smile—now standing empty. Some have found new uses, like the old Sinclair station that presently serves as a restaurant in Montgomery. Many, however, were abandoned as the local community disappeared or the traffic moved to a newer highway. And there they remain, overlooked, but still important to our state’s history.
A recent AAA Traveler article on old gas stations notes, “Architecture doesn’t always have to be grand to say something about the past. Sometimes it reflects a technological change that revolutionized the way people lived.” Probably no other twentieth-century invention more recently transformed our environment and lifestyles than the automobile, and gas stations are tangible reminders of this history of change. Many historic gas stations can be made useful again, while retaining their nostalgic appearance. The key to their preservation is raising awareness of the way gas station designs evolved—and what these changes can tell us about the automotive age.
Alabama's Endangered Historic Landmarks
Each year since 1994, Alabama Heritage has highlighted threatened historic sites throughout Alabama. The “Places in Peril” list has identified more than 215 imperiled historic resources throughout the state, and is compiled by the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. The locations highlight the results of deferred maintenance, perceived obsolescence, development pressures, and lack of funding—forces that now more than ever threaten our cultural legacy. But awareness is a powerful force, too, and can cultivate a renewed determination to be responsible stewards of our heritage. For more information, visit the AHC or the ATHP websites. Alabama Heritage is proud to bring to you a selection of the places designated as perilous. Please keep your comments to information relevant to the featured place in peril. Alabama Heritage reserves the right to delete any comment that we deem inappropriate.