50th anniversary sparks renewed interest in Wright stationParis has the Eiffel Tower, New York City has the Statue of Liberty, Duluth has the Aerial Lift Bridge and Cloquet has – the R.W. Lindholm Service Station. Although the only Frank Lloyd Wright-affiliated gas station may not attract the throngs of tourists seen at the aforementioned landmarks, it does boast a sizeable share of visitors.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York City has the Statue of Liberty, Duluth has the Aerial Lift Bridge and Cloquet has – the R.W. Lindholm Service Station.
Although the only Frank Lloyd Wright-affiliated gas station may not attract the throngs of tourists seen at the aforementioned landmarks, it does boast a sizeable share of visitors.
Its 50th birthday this year has sparked the formation of a task force committed to honoring and preserving the unique architectural gem. The group includes representatives from Best Oil Company (who own the station and whose family was responsible for its creation), the Carlton County Historical Society, Carlton County Economic Development, Cloquet Chamber of Commerce, an area architect and the Pine Journal.
They have been busy in recent months organizing, planning and seeking grant funding for much-needed repairs and station restoration.
Although no grant money has officially come in yet, the McKinney brothers of Best Oil (whose parents commissioned a home by Wright, which led to the gas station’s construction) have committed to various projects at the station to get it as spiffed up as possible in time for the celebration this summer. (See A1 for a story on the events planned thus far.)
Now it’s time to mobilize the community – to garner wide support of the project which will not only commemorate one of this county’s treasures and eventually bring it back to its original grandeur, but also generate considerable tourism interest in our area.
The station was Wright’s “effort to make a utilitarian, everyday structure beautiful and modern,” according to an article in the November/December 2007 issue of “The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Magazine.” The article also says once it was built, “the station was hailed in popular newspapers as well as scholarly journals for its originality.”
The station’s design is proving to be timeless as well. Wright designed other gas stations around the country, including one for the city of Buffalo, N. Y., but none were ever constructed.
Yet, a businessman in Buffalo is set to start work on a $10 million Wright-designed replica gas station this spring. So, it seems an even better time to put some shine back into Cloquet’?s station.
Carlton County community members currently can get involved in the 50th anniversary through the Carlton County Historical Society. They plan to host an exhibition tied to the station's 1958 anniversary and they will provide guided tours of the station on Saturdays throughout the summer.
In order to offer the tours, they need volunteers (docents). Anyone interested should contact Anne Dugan at 218-879-1938.
Anyone with comments, ideas or other related input is encouraged to write a letter to the editor at the Pine Journal, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.pinejournal.com and post a comment online.
In the months leading to the event, expect more stories about the station, the impact it has had in the community and about the celebration on Thursday, Aug. 7. Mark your calendars now.
- Lisa Baumann