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Smith’s 66 & Marine

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1967–1968, Clarence Reinhardt. 1692 Columbia Rd.

This service station preserves a rare, double-canopied instance of the building type. There were likely never more than two such stations in South Carolina. The other, built in Columbia, has been demolished. Smith’s 66 & Marine has been maintained by the same family since its opening in September 1968.

Over the 1950s and into the 1960s, Clarence Reinhardt (1906–1993), who spent his career working for Phillips Petroleum as an in-house architect, created a series of service station designs intended to enhance the company’s brand recognition among motorists. Reinhardt possessed a degree in architectural engineering from Kansas State College. In 1969, his work for Phillips was recognized with an award from the Marketing Division of the American Petroleum Institute. Reinhardt’s “New Look” designs culminated circa 1959 in an ultramodern “Harlequin” model, which featured an upswept triangular canopy supported at its apex on a single steel pylon of open truss-work. A revolving sign perched at the top of the pylon, rising above the point at which it pierced the canopy.

Reinhardt’s basic design sported only a single canopy but occasionally site conditions called for a double-canopied version. The site of Smith’s 66 at a major Y-intersection exemplified precisely such conditions. Here, the shared base of the two triangles that form the canopies bisects the office below, which is open on three sides through walls of slanted glass. The canopies themselves effectively form a butterfly roof. Service bays occupy a rectangular volume that runs southward from the office. In all such double-canopied Phillips 66 stations, the paired “bat-wings” or “gull-wings” evoke flight or movement, thus sharing the metaphorical value of the slightly earlier TWA Terminal (1962, Eero Saarinen) in New York.

Phillips Petroleum erected this station at the triangular intersection of Columbia Road and Boulevard Street in Orangeburg for lease to Linwood Smith, who had formerly been an Esso dealer. The location enjoyed heavy traffic from several directions. At the time of the station’s construction, Emmett A. Smith built an annex next door to house his trailer rental service. Even during the years when it was a Phillips 66 station it was always called “Smith’s 66.” It was among the last Phillips Petroleum stations built before the company abandoned the Harlequin model in favor of designs guided by the late 1960s trend towards contextualism. Emmett A. Smith purchased the station from Phillips Petroleum in 1978, after turning down an invitation to remodel it according to Phillips’ rebranding initiative, believing the original design attracted more business than one that would blend into the mixed residential and commercial suburban neighborhood.

Throughout the years, the only significant change the Smiths have made to the station’s exterior has been to upgrade the fuel pumps. The interior, with its original plywood cabinetry, also remains almost completely intact. Smith’s 66 & Marine continues to operate as a full-service station.

References

Leppke, Cliff. “Vanishing Points: Phillips’ Postwar ‘New Look’ Service Stations.” SCA Journal(Spring 2005): 4-11.

Wertz, William C., ed. Phillips: The First 66 Years. Bartlesville, OK: Phillips Petroleum Co., 1983.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Alfred Willis
Coordinator: 
Alfred Willis
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Citation

Alfred Willis, "Smith’s 66 & Marine", [Orangeburg, South Carolina], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/SC-01-075-0073.

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