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Uncle Harry’s (Pure Oil Service Station)

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c. 1930, Carl August Petersen. 100 S. Jefferson St.
  • (Photograph by Paul J. Jakubovich, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

This little cottage illustrates a gas-station marketing strategy that emerged in the 1920s. Oil companies clamored to draw motorists’ attention by using distinctive signs, colors, and buildings. Ohio’s Pure Oil Company hired Petersen to devise a company station style. His English cottage design looked like a quaint house with an attached garage, intended to blend into nearby residential neighborhoods while also identifying this Pure Oil outlet. The cottages drew on the company’s colors: white walls and a steep, “Pure Oil blue” tiled roof (now red). From about 1925 through the 1940s, Pure built hundreds of these stations across the country. Waterford’s station, now a frozen custard and ice cream shop, with its two (now enclosed) service bays, looks like a house, complete with hood moldings over arched entries and an oriel window. A similar station stands in Monroe, at 1323 9th Street.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Uncle Harry’s (Pure Oil Service Station)", [Waterford, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 162-163.

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