Photographing Americana: Signs and Structures of Our Past: Chapter 2
Having grown up in a small rural community, I remember an old castle gas station in the center of town. It is long gone and I so wish I had taken a photograph of it to preserve its heritage. Vienna, Illinois has a beautiful gem that has fallen victim to vandals and decay.
The station was built in 1930 by the Standard Oil Company. It is one of several that was built across the country to fit the space available. Many of these old stations have been converted into private residences and other businesses. I spoke to a resident of Vienna and he said, “Many people have expressed interest in the building, but there it sits, decaying each day.”
My imagination wandered to the days of “full service” stations. I could visualize the service man rushing out to gas the car, clean the windscreen and “take a look under the hood!”
As you can see from the above photographs, the torch (in photographs of other stations, it was a beautiful gold and red torch) has been chiseled away. It also appears that someone has tried to removed the entire “service” emblem! The lettering on the crown has also been removed leaving behind a skeleton of the past.
Other views of the building show the decay that is occurring. It is just a matter of time this beautiful landmark will be a memory just as the castle in my hometown is a memory for me.
I could only see inside the bay area; there were broken panes of glass that I could aim my camera through. I read other articles lamenting the sadness people have for this wonderful icon on the corner of Routes 146 and 45. It is a shame that someone will not step up and take charge of the restoration. I’m sure the expense is a hinderance. The red tiled roof, the yellow brick; a wonderful contrast of color!
Take the time to notice the images around you; pause and reflect on the past.