670 N. Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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|first_owner=William J. Gratz
|first_owner=William J. Gratz
|building_image1=AndrewHart--670 N Snelling Ave.JPG
|building_image1=AndrewHart--670 N Snelling Ave.JPG
|building_image2=AndrewHart--670 N Snelling.jpg
|building_image2=AndrewHart--670 N Snelling.jpg

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670 N. Snelling Avenue

Address: 670 Snelling Avenue N
Neighborhood/s: Hamline-Midway, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Ramsey County County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1937
Primary Style: Other
Additions: Service bay additions to north and east.
Major Alterations: Intact
Historic Function: Gas/filling station
Current Function: Other
Current Function: Automobile service station.
Other Current Function: Automobile service station.
Architect or source of design: P. Gepard
Builder: P. Gepard
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Other
Material of Roof: Ceramic Tile
Material of Foundation: Concrete
Building Permit Number: #74095
First Owner: William J. Gratz

Hamline-Midway Saint Paul Ramsey County

670 N. Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota
(44.9611717° N, 93.1669718° WLatitude: 44°57′40.218″N
Longitude: 93°10′1.098″W

The station is one of the most intact of St. Paul's dwindling number of period revival gas stations. It is an English Cottage Revival style Pure Oil Station. It has steeply pitched multiple gable roofline along a front facade with mock exterior endwall chimneys covered with stucco. Bellcast hood over round arched, single leaf door and over projecting oriel-like display window with tiny transom windows and molded base. Narrow rounded arched window next to door. Single garage door opening flanked by metal lamps with colored glass attached to wall. Wide lap siding and tile roof (probably ceramic). Two vertical drain pipes on main facade with capital letter "P" at the top. Rear portion of the building has flat roof. (Information primarily from the Historic Sites Survey, Ramsey County Historical Society and Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission, 1/20/82.)

The photo (Minnesota Historical Society Photo and Art Database) shows the original Pure Oil sign. The current (November 2008) sign standard is a later Pure Oil with the signage reflecting the current owner.



The following information is taken from "St. Paul's Architecture: A History" by Jeffrey A. Hess and Paul Clifford Larson (University of Minnesota Press, 2006):

"Cottage designs continued to capture the fancy of the automotive service industry for nearly two decades. St. Paul once had four that even sported Dutch windmills, the product of a 1922 Superior Refining Company inititative. At the beginning of World War II, the fashion was still carrying on, though the picturesque roofs, chimneys, and doorways of the English style were more often than not mixed with colonial Americana. Pure and Skelly oil companies placed their versions of filling station cottages in small towns and outlying urban neighborhoods across the country. St. Paul has one that has survived virtually intanct, the 1940 Gratz Pure Oil Station at Snelling and Blair Avenues." (page 147)

  • source #64 in the endnotes for this property gives additional information:

"The so-called Dutch Mill service stations, attributed to local architect Myrus Wright, were located at Third and Robert Streets, Dayton Avenue and Dale Street, Grand and Snelling Avenues, and Snelling and Edmund Avenues. All were demolished in the mid-1960s." (page 257)

The following information from "AIA Guide to the Twin Cities: The Essential Source on the Architecture of Minneapolis and St. Paul" by Larry Millett (2007, Minnesota Historical Society Press):

Snelling Auto Service (Gratz Pure Oil Service Station) 670 Snelling Avenue, North architect: P. Gepard, 1940

"A sweet little survivor from an era when gas stations were downright tidy and 'self service' would have been considered an oxymoron. The style here is English Cottage Revival" (page 565)

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