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What is the Building with the Dome?


Michelle C

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This is what I was looking for when I saw the Simpson's Diner photo.  Are you sure this was on Main?  The very excellent arch-ive.org isn't showing an ABC Grocery on Main, although this picture seems to date from the late 1920s-early 1930s.  If I were to hazard a guess I would say it is a gas station, 

 

 

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There is a Rettig's poster in the window, so this could be an ABC store that just sold Rettig's, rather than the sign indicating a Rettig's location.  Going by by the street directory, if this was the ABC in the 2100 block of Main then Ray's Oil Co. station would have been across the street (SE corner), and the lighthouse structure would be Bennett's Drug Store.

 

 

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I looked in my 1937 city directory and came up with Bennett's as well. I would love to find a good picture of the building. It is very unique looking and someplace there should be a picture. Perhaps next time I am in Houston I will have time to stop by the library and do a little digging. If any of you do find a picture please post it in this thread, as I would love to have better look. 

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I'll go out on a limb and say this "domed" building was a service station, probably owned and operated by the Atlantic Refining Company, a spinoff from Standard Oil, and which later became Atlantic-Richfield. I say this because of something I found when I Googled "Gas stations in the 1920s."

 

"Driven by public concern over unsightly gas stations, oil executives under pressure from the City Beautiful movement began constructing more aesthetically pleasing outlets. The Union Oil Company covered their station roofs in Spanish tile, while the Atlantic Refining Company built a station that was a scaled-down replica of the monument to Lysicrates in Athens, Greece.
 

And when I searched for a photo of the Monument to Lysicrates, this is what turned up.

 

http://www.athensinfoguide.com/wtslysicrates.htm

 

I rest my case. 

 

 

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I just looked at the 1926 city directory on the HADA site.

It has ABC stores at 2802-6 Main (Between Drew and Tuam) and 529 W. Alabama.

As part of the Main St. Store it also mentions R H McGowan Meats, Jamail & Bros Fruits, and City Bakery No. 2.

Also of note is at 2800 where there is an ABC drugs.

 

Nothing else listed on that side of the street until 2812

2812 is the Gulf Refinery Co. Station 7  (number hard to decipher).

To me it looks like maybe a pump just after the end of the ABC building.

 

if you keep going down the block

2900 lists 'Construction'

but at 2902 there is something called the Radio Light House.

 

 

 

 

post-901-0-89796300-1395243249_thumb.jpg

Edited by gnu
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So now i just searched "radio light house" and I found an ad in the Rice Thresher (March 2, 1928)

that lists a radio light house at 912 Henke & Pillot Drive.  Now that street doesnt exist anymore but the 900 block on the standard grid would be between that side of Main and Travis.

 

The ad is for Warren & Yarger, Better Hair Cuts,  Radio Light House

http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth230101/m1/3/zoom/

 

So maybe its just a novelty office building used to attract attention.  They added "radio" onto the name because it seemed modern like the way we attached atomic to things later in the century.

 

EDIT: There was a Henke & Pillot Grocery at Travis and Tuam - Hence a possible Henke & Pillot Drive that cut through the "superblock" from Main St. to the store.

Edited by gnu
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I think it could be a gas station (in that camp)--there are two cars milling around it, and it seems to be slightly set back from the street.

 

Yeah..i was convinced it was a Gulf Station after I saw it listed at 2812.

But then I changed my mind when I saw the Radio Light House listed.

I mean what else would be named that!

 

All the pieces seem to fit.

 

The 912 H&P drive  even numbered address would have to be a SW corner and that matches the 2902 main st address of the light house. Also a gas station would likely be on a corner and thus the 2812 of the gas station across the street.

 

If you look around the light house the cars seems to be parked head in and not abutting any pumps. It looks to me like there is a round sign on a pole (typical of Gulf) on a street curb in the background between the parked cars at the light house and the street.

 

So I think there a street behind the cars and before the round pole sign.

Thus the gas station is set back, out of view, in this picture, on the NW corner of Main and the H&P Drive.

 

and then from the 1944 aerial from google earth showing the gas station (but looks like the light house is already gone)

post-901-0-58863500-1395251735_thumb.jpg

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I think we have a winner.  

 

In the aerial shot the ABC Store seems to have a large courtyard.  In the original picture posted I'm guessing that the arch with the large Rettig's Ice Cream sign was an entrance into the courtyard.  

 

I had initially guessed a gas station because in the 1920s lighthouses were one of the motifs that gas station designers often incorporated.  If anyone happens to have the book "Main Street to Miracle Mile," about vernacular architecture, it mentions lighthouse gas stations and even has an illustration of one.

 

 

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I think we have a winner.  

 

In the aerial shot the ABC Store seems to have a large courtyard.  In the original picture posted I'm guessing that the arch with the large Rettig's Ice Cream sign was an entrance into the courtyard.  

 

I had initially guessed a gas station because in the 1920s lighthouses were one of the motifs that gas station designers often incorporated.  If anyone happens to have the book "Main Street to Miracle Mile," about vernacular architecture, it mentions lighthouse gas stations and even has an illustration of one.

 

I assumed that at first too.  It was that or a store that sold nautical supplies!

Here is that picture from "Main Street to Miracle Mile" courtesy of Google Books...

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=OV4t43mxDMEC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA101#v=onepage&q=lighthouse&f=false

 

top right of page 101

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I assumed that at first too.  It was that or a store that sold nautical supplies!

Here is that picture from "Main Street to Miracle Mile" courtesy of Google Books...

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=OV4t43mxDMEC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA101#v=onepage&q=lighthouse&f=false

 

top right of page 101

 

Thanks.  For anyone interested in the architecture of car dealers, gas stations, grocery stores and miniature golf courses that book is a must-have.

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I thank everyone for their diligent effort in trying to find an answer to the domed building. You certainly narrowed it down. Hopefully one of these days one of us will be able to find a picture of the structure. As unique as the structure is I know there had to be pictures made of it. Sooner or later one will hopefully surface.

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