Frank Lloyd Wright's Little Known Gas Station For the Future

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo / Published by Dwell
Frank Lloyd Wright is renowned for numerous iconic structures—but not the little Minnesota gas station that was part of his vision for American suburbia.

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. 

Frank Lloyd Wright's Little Known Gas Station For the Future - Photo 1 of 2 - The building features a cantilevered copper canopy and is primarily made of concrete, glass, and steel. There's a glass observation lounge on the second floor for community interaction. Cypress, one of Wright's favorite materials, is used throughout the interior. Photo circa 1963.

The building features a cantilevered copper canopy and is primarily made of concrete, glass, and steel. There's a glass observation lounge on the second floor for community interaction. Cypress, one of Wright's favorite materials, is used throughout the interior. Photo circa 1963.

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.  

Frank Lloyd Wright's Little Known Gas Station For the Future - Photo 2 of 2 - The Lindholm Service Station circa 2007

The Lindholm Service Station circa 2007

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.