Frank Lloyd Wright Designed Gas Station Being Built In Buffalo

8:18 PM, Oct 12, 2013   |    comments
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Buffalo, N.Y. - The gas station that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, but never got to build, is now coming to life at the Pierce Arrow Museum in downtown Buffalo, being built to Wright's exact specifications.

The year is 1927, Wright has already built the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo and the Martin's summer home Graycliff in Derby when he designs what at the time is called a "filling station" which Wright plans to sell to the Tydol Oil Company.

The first station is to be located in Buffalo at Michigan and Cherry Streets with Wright hoping Tydol will then open a string of similar stations across the country.

At the time, gas stations consisted of little more than a pump and an outhouse.

Wright's station would be revolutionary with beautiful gravity powered pumps, patriotic red, white and blue hoses and a copper roof and poles.

It would also be luxurious said Jim Sandoro of the Pierce Arrow Museum and the man responsible for having the filling station built.

Jim Sandoro: "He put a living room in for the comfort of the women and of course in Buffalo it might be a little chilly so he put a fireplace in right underneath the gas tanks. And then he put a fireplace in for the attendants because now they were going from only being open during the day to open 24 hours."

Scott Brown: "Did he consider this a work of art just as he did his homes?"

Jim Sandoro: "Oh yeah he was very, very particular about anything he designed. When you look at his design from the second floor, our mezzanine, and look down at the architecture it's so fantastic what he designed and he was very proud of it. And that's why he thought they should have been built all over the country."

But as it turns out, Wright priced himself out of the market.

Jim Sandoro: "He wanted a $1,700 commission for each one that was to be built and they were only costing $1,700 to build and so all of a sudden it would have been about $3,500 total, so it wasn't worth it to those different oil operators."

And so instead of Wright's modern design, Tydol opened a bare bones station at Michigan and Cherry Streets.

Scott Brown: "He was notorious for his temper, was he bitter that this didn't come to be?"

Jim Sandoro: "He wrote some bitter letters afterward when they didn't build it and they built a skinny tower on the site. He over-priced himself and then was insulted by the fact that they didn't take it."

But now, Wright's filling station is finally taking shape, still revolutionary 86 years after he first designed it.




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