Neglected service station becomes historical landmark in St. Pete

An unusual 325 square foot building in St. Petersburg has become a historical landmark.

The little building on S. 4th Street was built in 1926.

"You put the money in the top and drops it into the safe," said Robert Blackmon, a real estate developer and former St. Petersburg City Council member.

Blackmon was so intrigued by the small building that he bought it. It's a long-neglected service station, built in the 1920s, when gas cost around 25 cents a gallon.

Back then service station attendants would pump your gas, check your oil, and wash your windshield. Blackmon's service station was part of the first generation of stations that helped launch America's love affair with car travel. It was one of a handful built by the Standard Oil Company.

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"This thing is something really meaningful, not just locally, but also nationally to the history of our country," shared Blackmon.

A station very similar to Blackmon's was fully restored in Bowling Green Kentucky. It belongs to the City of Bowling Green and maintained as a historic landmark.

There was an old safe inside the building.

Blackmon believes his is just as historic. 

"It is older than anything else, so it has seen the growth of this area over a century," explained Blackmon. 

He has a plan to give the old service station a new purpose. He says it's perfect for a drive-through coffee shop that's becoming more popular.

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"They all work on the same footprint of less than 500 square feet. All of these national chains spreading throughout the country are working on the same blueprint as this building from a hundred years ago," said Blackmon.

He said rehabbing the building hasn't been cheap. It was neglected for years. He had to replace the roof, replace many bricks, and the building will have to be rewired.

Blackmon wants to transform the building into a coffee shop.

Blackmon wants to transform the building into a coffee shop.

Blackmon said he's had lots of support from the surrounding neighborhood of Harbordale. St. Petersburg has already designated the building as a local historical landmark, and he hopes it can become nationally registered. 

Blackmon is currently seeking a tenant who will help transform this service station from the past into the newest kind of coffee shop.