Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cities Service Station at Eighth and Reid

While preparing yesterday's piece about the former Cities Service station on E. Erie, I remembered that it was during last year that I received two emails with the same suggestion for a blog post related to that gas station chain.
Photo Courtesy Jeremy Reynolds
In July 2014, blog contributor Jeremy Reynolds wrote to me and stated, "I noticed that Benny's Car Care at 8th and Reid is doing some renovations and in the process uncovering part of their former identity." Jeremy also attached a photo (at left) showing the transformation in progress. Jeremy then followed up his email with another, in which he wrote, "I noticed that at Benny's Car Care at 8th and Reid that all of the graphics are exposed now from when it was Cities Services. Cool seeing those old graphics."

In August, I received an email from Norm McNary. He wrote, "I just wanted to tell you to check out Benny's Carriage Shop on the corner of Reid Ave. and 8th Street. Benny is stripping all the paint that was covering the old original "Cities Service"sign from around 1930. He's also planning on installing some old time gas pumps out front. If you get the chance, check it out! It's very neat."

My apologies to both Jeremy and Norm for waiting so long to take them up on their suggestion. Ben Bonaminio's restoration of his building to its Cities Service roots is pretty neat.

I spent a little time in the library researching the gas station. As Norm noted, its Cities Service heritage goes way back. The gas station's Reid Avenue address wasn't even listed in the 1926 directory, but in the next available book – the 1929 edition – it was already a Cities Service station.

1929 Lorain City Directory Listing
The station seemed to maintain its Cities Service (and later, Citgo) branding throughout its entire run, and it had many owners through the years. A partial list of owners (with approximate dates) includes E. E. Widmer (late 1930s), Vern R. Wait (1940s), Wood Brothers (early 1950s), Paul Vincent (late 1950s), and Lee Nimon (late 1950s). In the 1960s, the station was known as Hunger's Cities Service (1965), Ryan's Citgo (late 1960s to early 1970s), and Joseph Szabo Citgo Service (1972) before briefly becoming vacant at the time of the 1973 directory. Finally, the station became known as Ronald Hunger's Citgo before going vacant again around 1977. 
After that, the building found new life almost immediately in the car care field. A few of the companies that called the former gas station home before Benny's include Quality Auto Reconditioning (1978), Miracle Shield (1980) and Trans Protection Systems (1982).
Even before Jeremy and Norm drew my attention to the gas station's new retro look last summer, I had photographed the building on one of my jaunts around town. Here's my shot from April of 2014 (below) – just a few months before it would be transformed.

And here are my recent shots (below).

One again, special thanks to Jeremy and Norm for taking the time to email me with their suggestions.

Incidentally, Benny's Carriage Shoppe Inc. has been in business since 1979 and specializes in under body protection, raw rust protection, and auto detailing (complete auto cleaning of interior and exterior, interior shampooing, buffing, waxing, pin striping, window tinting) and Miracle Shield Paint Sealant. You can contact the firm at (440) 244-2330.


Anonymous said...

It was also a Sinclair station.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for that information. There were some entries in the directories where only the owner's name was listed and no gasoline brand (during the late 30s and most of the 40s).

The hard part about researching something like this is the fact that the library is missing a lot of the directories!

Drew Penfield said...

I love that they took the time and effort to restore the look of that old gas station. Very classy.