Avant’s Cities and Jacksons Conoco Service Stations, El Reno, Oklahoma
Driving along the old alignment of Route 66 in the western Oklahoma town of El Reno, travelers will come to a sharp turn at the corner of Wade and Choctaw where two very distinctive reminders of the service station business along Route 66 remain. At 220 North Choctaw is the old Avant’s Cities Service Station, and immediately to the south, at 121 West Wade, is the Jackson Conoco Service Station. Both businesses began in the 1930s, a favorable time when the paving of Oklahoma Route 66 west of Oklahoma City neared completion.
There seem to be no dramatic stories of cut-throat commercial rivalry between the establishments’ long time managers Tom Avant and Carelton Jackson, even though their two stations were constructed at nearly the same time along the same highway, and within sight of each other. Perhaps this was because as long as the Mother Road reigned supreme, it channeled a constant and growing stream of traffic through small towns such as El Reno, seemingly bringing enough customers for all. Products of their time, the stations represent two contrasting examples of the oil and gas industry’s practice of achieving brand recognition through distinctive service station architecture.
Mr. Avant’s station is an Art Moderne /Art Deco mixed design favored by the Cities Service Oil Company in the 1920s and 1930s. Its overall streamlined and trimmed down look with smooth walls and a flat roof is typical Art Moderne. Art Deco elements include the prominent zigzag parapet and stepped out pilasters. The circular depression beneath the parapet once held the Cities Service logo. A lonely overhead light socket that illuminated the logo still remains. The station’s original color scheme was Cities Service’s trademark white with green trim.
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