After returning from a recent jaunt along the Mother Road, Virginians James & Bernice Shively decided to create a little bit of Route 66 in their own backyard. An article in The Franklin News Post describes Mrs. Shively as having been “captivated” by a 1930s gas station in Texas. I’m guessing the one that so captured their imaginations was the very one you see in my photograph above—the first Phillips 66 built in Texas.
Back on their property in Ferrum, they had a building that they both considered to be “somewhat of an eyesore”, and Bernice thought it would be a perfect project for conversion into a replica gas station, modeled on the one they had seen in Texas.
A neighbor helped the retired couple turn the building into a darling replica of an early Phillips station, which you can see here (there’s no information about the photographer at all, and as you can imagine, I’m not big on stealing photography—that’s why you’re seeing my shots of the McLean station instead)—complete with three pumps and a large, swinging Phillips 66 sign.
“The original owner of the sign would not sell it but insisted on giving it to me,” Shively said.
I love it!
The couple has filled the interior of their newly-built 1930s filling station replica with era-appropriate gas station memorabilia, which of course puts any Route 66 lover in mind of the beloved Gary Turner and his Gay Parita in Missouri. The Shiveleys acquired many of the goodies during their travels, and apparently, one of the gas pumps was picked up in North Dakota. No doubt it’s enjoying the balmier climate of southwestern Virginia (I know I would).
Easily visible from Route 40, the Shivleys’ station is already drawing in quite a few visitors. The appeal of the Shivelys’ home-made bit of Route 66 will certainly increase when they park the ’31 Ford Model A pickup they’re restoring out front. Since we are often in Virginia, we’ll have to remember so we, too, can drop by this very far east bit of 66!
Not only was their inspiration station the first Phillips 66 in Texas, it was the first outside Phillips Petroleum Company’s home state of Oklahoma. Built around 1929, the McLean station was placed in what was, at the time, a boom town—it didn’t take time for McLean to gain about 1500 residents that had six churches and fifty businesses to choose from. Sadly, as we so often hear about Mother Road towns, when the leg of 66 going through McLean was bypassed, the town slowly began to wither. Even the filling station could not survive, and closed its doors in 1977.
Happily, the cottage-style station was restored by citizens and the Texas Route 66 Association in 1992; the Association continues to maintain this historic site, and does so beautifully, if I say so myself. McLean’s Phillips station has captured the hearts and affections of many, just like the Shivleys (though few of us are so lucky as to be able to create our own replica back home!), and is a must-see along 66!
While you’re in McLean, by the way, be sure to stop in at Red River Steakhouse, on the western edge of town, for a meal. Being celiac, I’m often limited to steaks on road trips (it’s a rough way to go, but someone has to deal with it, so it might as well be me), but the steak I had at Red River was truly the best and most delicious I’ve ever had, road trip or no. Visiting the Longhorn cattle in the parking lot was fun, too—I’d never been so close to one, much less two, and having always been in love with Texas, of course associate the Longhorns with the Lone Star State.
Need a place to stay? You can’t do better than the Cactus Inn, a cozy and charming Route 66 original right next door to the steakhouse.
This is not the first I’ve heard of folks being inspired to create something new upon returning home from their travels; our journeys along the Mother Road and other American highways have given us more than a few ideas. How about you—have you ever come home from a holiday brimming with ideas? Do share—this would make a fun blog post later, especially if you, like the Shivelys, have gotten it started or done!
Finally, I found this brief video tour of McLean’s restored gas station. Enjoy!