Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hooksett, New Hampshire ~ 20th Century Americana

Old Gulf gas station, Route 28, Hooksett, New Hampshire

Eyesores or historical buildings?

This question has been posed in several of my "20th Century Americana" blog posts. It's my belief that since the recent past history is not treasured like the buildings of the 1600s and 1700s, we let some of these landmarks become eyesores.  The 1800s mill buildings of New England are left to decay, and their industrial history becomes a despised part of local lore.  Do we loathe these buildings because of the pollution and immigrant hardship associated with them? Or do we restore them to their former glory and celebrate the history of labor, technology, and the interesting architecture?

These empty buildings in Hooksett, New Hampshire can be seen along Route 3A and Route 28.  Both roads were busy north-south routes from Massachusetts to the great north woods and lakes regions before Interstate Highway 93 was built in the 1960s.  After the highway, some of these businesses languished and closed when the tourists no longer came through town, but drove around it without stopping.

Lately I've noticed that TV shows like "American Pickers" and PBS's "Antique Roadshow" have featured items from old gas stations and service stations.  Oil cans, signs, advertising art and automobile parts in their original boxes are selling for big money to collectors and to decorators.  I wonder if any of these collectors would like an original building to house their stuff?

This old Gulf gas station (also see above at the top of this post) has a porcelain enamel tile exterior and a curved front, which help establish it's date of origins to the 1940s or 1950s.  The National Park Service has a wonderful webpage HERE that describes how some of these old gas stations can be re-purposed for office space, coffee or ice cream shops, and small retail stores.

This old Quonset hut is next door to the old Gulf gas station.  I might have been used by the same business as a service bay or for storage.  Quonset huts have a legendary history from World War II, when they were used as quickly assembled pre-fabricated buildings. The first place of their manufacture was Quonset Point, Rhode Island.  According to Wikipedia, between 150,000 to 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured and sent all around the globe to U.S. military installations to be used as housing, storage, administration buildings, latrines, hospitals and many other uses.  These corrugated galvanized steel buildings have been adapted to many other uses since World War II.  However, we are losing these structures at a fast pace as they are demolished for more modern buildings.

Old Texaco gas station, Route 3A, Hooksett, New Hampshire

For the truly curious:

Wikipedia - Quonset Huts

Preservation Brief 46 "The Preservation and Re-use of Historic Gas Stations" 

Texas Department of Transportation
PDF of "The Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas"
includes how to examine old gas stations to determine their age and style

A Flickr album of photographs of old gas stations, by "citizenkerr"

The URL for this post is

Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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