Frank Lloyd Wright's Little Known Gas Station For the Future
Wright's plan for a newly-born American suburbia—Broadacre City—was a vision and socio-political scheme where each American family would be given a single-acre plot of land from the federal land reserves, and live in communities filled with Usonian homes. With few apartment dwellers and little emphasis on public transportation, residents would be heavily automobile-dependent, which would lead to a society where service stations would play a starring role.
Built in 1958 and designed by Wright himself, the R. W. Lindholm Service Station is located at 202 Cloquet Avenue in Cloquet, Minnesota, and is still in use today. It's one of the few designs from Wright's utopian plans for Broadacre City that was actually implemented. Plus, it's the only station built to Wright's design. Although, a station he designed to be built in Buffalo that was never built, was recently constructed inside the Pierce-Arrow Museum.
In 1952, Wright was commissioned to design and build a residence named Mantyla for Ray W. Lindholm, the president of Lindholm Oil, Inc.—a distributor of petroleum that was headquartered in Cloquet. The company owned several gas stations in Minnesota and in 1956, Lindholm commissioned Wright to construct a new service station.
Wright had originally designed the pumps to provide an overhead gas supply—but instead, traditional gas pumps were installed in order to comply with local fire codes. Interestingly enough, these overhead gas pumps are common throughout Japan.
The design of the Lindholm Service Station influenced the development of gas station architecture in the United States, and elements of the structure were used by Philips Petroleum Company in later designs. The Lindholm Service Station's significance earned the building a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.