A historic Gulf gas station, adorn with Spanish-style terracotta features, is getting ready to find a new home in the city of Philadelphia. The gas station, located at 20th Street and Arch Street, has been there for almost 100 years and is going to be moved to pave the way for a new 18-story office building for the insurance company Chubb Ltd, to be developed by Parkway Corporation. Fairmount Park’s Lemon Hill is the designed site for the move, specifically in the surrounding area of the Sedgley Porter House.

As a remnant of the early automobile era in the United States, the gas station is currently protected by historical preservation laws. For this reason, the gas station is going to be moved in its entirety to its new home. Patrick Grossi, the Director of Advocacy for the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia was quoted as saying, “The structure will be preserved and, while placed in an ahistorical context, it’s going to remain publicly usable…We’ve got to pick it up very, very gingerly and then drive it a couple miles down the road at one or two miles per hour. We have to move a couple traffic lights and trim some trees for headspace.”

The new plans for the gas station however, do not include automobiles. Once it’s in its new location, it will fall under the authority of the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation. A spokesperson for the department explained that it will be turned into a meeting room for the youth cycling program of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and the amateur rowing organization, the Schuylkill Navy. These new plans came about once The Historical Commission voted to allow the gas station’s transfer over to the Parks and Rec. Department. This removes historical protections from the property and change its designation — allowing it to be removed and modified from its original usage. Brian Berson of Parkway Corporation stated, “Nostalgia has value, but in a growing city, nostalgia should not be enough to impede a project the way this has. However, it is a dear object to the community, and Parkway was not about to go in and argue that we should be able to knock it down.”

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