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This Gulf Super Station in Waco Has History

By: jwilder

waco restored historic gulf service station
Restored Gulf station. Photo by James Wilder.

This historic Gulf station began life in 1929. It located on the corner of Washington Avenue and 15th street in Waco, Texas.

It was purchased and restored by car enthusiast brothers, Gary and Randy Balusek. The restoration was finished around October 2014.

The Baluseks restored the building mainly to provide a place to work on their own cars.

But this is not the end of the story. A man named Gordon Barrett deserves a bit of the credit for making this Gulf station shine.

Before the Restoration

waco historic gulf service station before restoration
Image credit to Google street view (screen shot).

While researching this property I discovered this image of the Gulf station through Google street view. It certainly shows just how much work the Baluseks invested in the restoration.

According to a Waco Tribune article, the station used to be operated as LT One Automotive. In the 1960s and 1970s it operated as Monty’s Auto Shop.

And yes, the gorilla was a bit of a surprise. Turns out that this gorilla is a bit of a star. His name is Darwin and he now lives in the front yard of a house on Austin Avenue.

The Renovation of 1936

waco historic gulf service station 1936 restoration
Gordon Barrett's Gulf Super Service station in 1936.

As mentioned earlier, this Gulf station was built in 1929 on Washington Avenue and 15th street. Washington Avenue was the main road through Waco, at the time.

1929 was the year construction began on the dam of the Bosque River that would create Lake Waco. It was also the year Clyde Barrow was arrested with two others at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Waco.

In 1936 Gordon Barrett purchased the Gulf station and started a project to bring the little gas station into the future.

In Dec 1936, the Waco Tribune ran a glowing article about the renovation of the station and the new owner, Gordon Barrett. The paper was thrilled with the new design proclaiming that "Streamlining seems to have come to Waco to stay. We now have streamlined trains streamlined drugstores, meat markets and streamlined super service stations."

I don't know what the original Gulf station looked like, but it was probably the original gulf station design which had decorative red brick work on the columns and light colored canopy. This architecture would have been considered Craftsman or Colonial Revival style.

Barrett's remodel brought the building up to Gulf's 1930s standard design, which was considered Art Deco (or Streamline Moderne).

Barrett ran this station, as well as a second station at 25th and Gorman, until 1942, when he served in the army for four years.

Location

The building is located on the northwest corner of Washington Ave. and N. 15th St.

While the building looks like it could be a museum, it is privately owned and as far as I know, not open to the public.

Gulf Service Station
1425 Washington Ave.
Waco, Texas

Conclusion

I personally appreciate the work that Gary and Randy Balusek did in restoring this piece of transportation history.

I hope in the future they consider placing a state historical marker on the property to help ensure it's future survival.

There are plenty more gas stations in Waco just waiting for someone with the desire and resources to preserve them as a part of our transportation history.

Notes
Gordon Barrett's obituary states that after returning from service in the army in 1946, he was a representative of an auto supply company from 1946 to 1954. Then, in 1954 he started the Barrett Hardware Company in Bellmead. Barrett ran the hardware company until his death in 1962.

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