Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

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Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Andrew T. » 06 Sep 2016 20:52

How rare are the Matawan-style Texaco service stations of the late 1960s and 1970s? As far as roadside relics go, these are some of my favorites: Nice and glassy, with stone accents and a recognizable profile.

Compared to the Teague-designed Texacos of the 1930s to 1950s or the contemporary ranch-style Shells (which are almost nauseating in their commonness), they've always seemed scarce to me. I've only photographed four of this design on my road trips of the last eight years, and I feel overcome with self-satisfaction and accomplishment on the occasion when I find one!

Then again, I live in a swath of the country that Texaco departed from around 1983. Was this prototype any more common down south or on the coasts?
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Groceteria » 06 Sep 2016 21:45

I see them fairly frequently, very often modified, but not always. I wouldn't exactly say they were common (they're rare enough that they stand out and catch my eye) but there are a fair number of them around. Of course, they're never in use as Texaco stations anymore. I miss Texaco...

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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Andrew T. » 06 Sep 2016 22:14

My last Matawan sighting was in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where the station in question was still pumping gas as a Marathon. The trapezoidal roofline was almost obliterated from view by a banner and mega-canopy in front, but was plainly visible from behind.
img_6442s.jpg
img_6448s.jpg
The building looked as if it had been added onto in the rear, and a convenience store had annexed the service bay area. But all things considered, it still had its structural integrity intact.
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Andrew T. » 06 Sep 2016 22:30

Groceteria wrote:Of course, they're never in use as Texaco stations anymore. I miss Texaco...
Tell me about it. There was an original 1950s-era Texaco open in my hometown up to the end of the 1980s, but the brand seems to have been slipping away ever since.
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by dooneyt63 » 07 Sep 2016 19:34

Though not as common as slightly altered Teague buildings, Matawan stations were fairly frequently spotted during their prime in the Southeast. Several survivors come to mind, none of them gas stations...Mobile, AL (church), Panama City, FL (auto repair), and Jackson, MS (Little Caesar's Pizza). The latter was a 1950's Teague with a Matawan modification package. I could probably think of more. The modification stations were fairly common among the big oil companies...Esso/Enco/Exxon turning L&M stations into ranches comes to mind as do Mobils modfied to use the circle design of the early 1970's. These date from that great era when stations had a distinctive image borne out by more than a sign, a canopy, and a pump decal. Some these days don't even go that far. The Matawan design did not ring a major chime with Texaco's customers and was soon phased out. Their simpler later designs, more reliant on color than architectural style or materials, wiped away many Matawans that remained Texaco stations.

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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by rich » 08 Sep 2016 16:47

The Matawan was pretty dated when it was introduced. Fieldstone-type accents were more of a 50s/early 60s thing in commercial buildings (and homes). Mobil's mimialist designs from the mid-60s were much more contemporary and still look good. I would disagree about the Shell ranches--they were distinctive but fit in well with the suburban areas where most of them were built and had clean modern look that doesn't seem particularly dated now. It also was a versatile design that looked good as a c-store conversion (ditto the Mobils).

The Texaco design also seem pretty undynamic when you compare it to the soaring wing Phillps 66 and Union76 designs that were common in the 60s. Today, those have a nice mid-mod kitsch that most surviving gas stations of their era lack.

The teague Texacos may have pioneered the enamel covered metal box, but most of their competitors adopted the same design shortly afterward and esp. after WWII and some were more distinctive, like Shell's use of color.

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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Andrew T. » 09 Sep 2016 19:59

More show-and-tell:
Matawan-style Texaco (Madison, WI)_8069321217_m.jpg
This Matawan is the most local of any I've seen (it's in Madison, Wisconsin), and it now houses a rainbow-striped custard stand. This example is comparatively unmodified; the dining room is in the office while the kitchen is in the service bays. (Yes, I'm something of a regular customer.)
dooneyt63 wrote:Though not as common as slightly altered Teague buildings, Matawan stations were fairly frequently spotted during their prime in the Southeast. Several survivors come to mind, none of them gas stations...Mobile, AL (church), Panama City, FL (auto repair), and Jackson, MS (Little Caesar's Pizza). The latter was a 1950's Teague with a Matawan modification package. I could probably think of more. The modification stations were fairly common among the big oil companies...Esso/Enco/Exxon turning L&M stations into ranches comes to mind as do Mobils modfied to use the circle design of the early 1970's. These date from that great era when stations had a distinctive image borne out by more than a sign, a canopy, and a pump decal. Some these days don't even go that far. The Matawan design did not ring a major chime with Texaco's customers and was soon phased out. Their simpler later designs, more reliant on color than architectural style or materials, wiped away many Matawans that remained Texaco stations.
Interesting! I don't consider modified stations to be true Matawans; the new-build structures had too many unique features like side-located service bay doors that were impossible to implement in a retrofit of an older and more conventional building. Most of the retrofits I've seen amounted to stone facing and a green mansard slathered over the old porcelain enamel; sometimes with a mockup of the trapezoidal upper window line above the service doors, sometimes without. These can be hard to identify as Texacos when they're without.

Texaco's early departure from states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana may have been unintentionally beneficial for preservation, since the properties never had a chance to be "reimaged" in black and red. I've seen numerous repurposed six-sided signframes in Wisconsin, and none in Missouri.
rich wrote:The Matawan was pretty dated when it was introduced. Fieldstone-type accents were more of a 50s/early 60s thing in commercial buildings (and homes).
I don't think any gasoline retailers were using fieldstone accents regularly before the mid-1960s, well after supermarkets and shopping centers made them seem old hat. I wonder why that was? Did the petroleum industry just have a knack for being behind in the fashions of the times?
rich wrote:The teague Texacos may have pioneered the enamel covered metal box, but most of their competitors adopted the same design shortly afterward and esp. after WWII and some were more distinctive, like Shell's use of color.
Was Texaco the first brand to construct porcelain enamel boxes? I hadn't thought about this before...but maybe so, since Teague's Texaco design debuted in 1934 (or 1936?) and I associate most of the other buildings of this type with the 1940s and 1950s. The non-Texaco stations I associate with the 1930s were cottage-like structures with gable roofs, or early box designs like Sinclair's with dull walls and roof-edge fluorishes.
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by wnetmacman » 09 Sep 2016 21:24

The Matawan design was actually fairly prolific. Where I am in Lafayette, LA, there were four or five at one time. They were spread throughout the city, and there were two across from one another on I-49 north of town.

Over the last few years, they had begun to deteriorate. One was still in use as a gas/service station until 3 years ago. It was torn down recently for a generic oil change place. Another was torn down so the local International Truck dealer could expand. Only one remains now.

Texaco was building them with high regularity in the 70's. There were also modifications of the Teague design that would add a mansard similar to the Matawan design. I have seen many of those as well; Texaco dealers were usually very loyal to the brand. Until it was merged with Chevron. Now, they are the lower end stations. A sad chapter in an extremely storied brand, and the only one to hit all 50 states. (Gulf hit all the lower 48, but never made it to Hawaii or Alaska as Texaco did)
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by rich » 09 Sep 2016 22:26

The Teagues appear to be the trend setter--architectural histories connect them to streamline architecture which originated in the early/mid-30s. Before then, service stations went toward domestic architectural styles or oddities like the Shell clamshells. The colonials (Gulf, in particular) and the ranches (not just Shell0 after WWII probably were successors to the domestic sensibility.

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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Steve Landry » 10 Sep 2016 09:04

Andrew T. wrote:More show-and-tell:
Matawan-style Texaco (Madison, WI)_8069321217_m.jpg
This Matawan is the most local of any I've seen (it's in Madison, Wisconsin), and it now houses a rainbow-striped custard stand. This example is comparatively unmodified; the dining room is in the office while the kitchen is in the service bays. (Yes, I'm something of a regular customer.)
dooneyt63 wrote:Though not as common as slightly altered Teague buildings, Matawan stations were fairly frequently spotted during their prime in the Southeast. Several survivors come to mind, none of them gas stations...Mobile, AL (church), Panama City, FL (auto repair), and Jackson, MS (Little Caesar's Pizza). The latter was a 1950's Teague with a Matawan modification package. I could probably think of more. The modification stations were fairly common among the big oil companies...Esso/Enco/Exxon turning L&M stations into ranches comes to mind as do Mobils modfied to use the circle design of the early 1970's. These date from that great era when stations had a distinctive image borne out by more than a sign, a canopy, and a pump decal. Some these days don't even go that far. The Matawan design did not ring a major chime with Texaco's customers and was soon phased out. Their simpler later designs, more reliant on color than architectural style or materials, wiped away many Matawans that remained Texaco stations.
Interesting! I don't consider modified stations to be true Matawans; the new-build structures had too many unique features like side-located service bay doors that were impossible to implement in a retrofit of an older and more conventional building. Most of the retrofits I've seen amounted to stone facing and a green mansard slathered over the old porcelain enamel; sometimes with a mockup of the trapezoidal upper window line above the service doors, sometimes without. These can be hard to identify as Texacos when they're without.

Texaco's early departure from states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana may have been unintentionally beneficial for preservation, since the properties never had a chance to be "reimaged" in black and red. I've seen numerous repurposed six-sided signframes in Wisconsin, and none in Missouri.
rich wrote:The Matawan was pretty dated when it was introduced. Fieldstone-type accents were more of a 50s/early 60s thing in commercial buildings (and homes).
I don't think any gasoline retailers were using fieldstone accents regularly before the mid-1960s, well after supermarkets and shopping centers made them seem old hat. I wonder why that was? Did the petroleum industry just have a knack for being behind in the fashions of the times?
rich wrote:The teague Texacos may have pioneered the enamel covered metal box, but most of their competitors adopted the same design shortly afterward and esp. after WWII and some were more distinctive, like Shell's use of color.
Was Texaco the first brand to construct porcelain enamel boxes? I hadn't thought about this before...but maybe so, since Teague's Texaco design debuted in 1934 (or 1936?) and I associate most of the other buildings of this type with the 1940s and 1950s. The non-Texaco stations I associate with the 1930s were cottage-like structures with gable roofs, or early box designs like Sinclair's with dull walls and roof-edge fluorishes.

What did the Teagues look like?

I ask because there is another Texaco style that I have infrequently seen that has strong art deco lines.
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by rich » 10 Sep 2016 11:26

The only other chain that I recall using fieldstone was Union76 in their ranch style and I think that predated Texaco, but probably not by much. They did add it as accent on some Pure Oil stations when those were rebranded to Union76; that I believe was sometime after the acquisition in 1965.

You've seen lots of Teague Texacos. Some have an awning over the pumps, some have a rounded face on the corner, some are more squared along the top--some have more of a loaf of bread shape, some have more than 2 bays. They're not classic art moderne streamline--more boxy than anything else, but they are identified with the streamline style of design. Given that virtually every chain built a version for these until at least the late 50s, it's probably more identified with the post-WWII era, when the vast majority of these were constructed.

https://www.google.com/search?q=teague+ ... n2EbYcM%3A

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v625/ ... 1374339986

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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Andrew T. » 10 Sep 2016 12:27

Basically, what Rich said. The "Teague" in question was industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague; Teague died in 1960 but his consulting firm is still in business.

The Teague Texaco design was widespread (moreso than the Matawans), and it was so significant that a mock-up of such a station is on display in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. From my 2014 visit:
img_2939sm.jpg
Of course, just about all real-world examples would have had at least two service bays.

I remember visiting the Henry Ford as a kid and thinking, "Why is our local gas station in the museum?" :-)
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by wnetmacman » 10 Sep 2016 19:56

Andrew T. wrote:Basically, what Rich said. The "Teague" in question was industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague; Teague died in 1960 but his consulting firm is still in business.

The Teague Texaco design was widespread (moreso than the Matawans), and it was so significant that a mock-up of such a station is on display in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. From my 2014 visit:
img_2939sm.jpg
Of course, just about all real-world examples would have had at least two service bays.

I remember visiting the Henry Ford as a kid and thinking, "Why is our local gas station in the museum?" :-)
Not only all of this, but the Teague was a very versatile design. It could be built in any number of sizes. It could be built with or without any number of garage bays, and it could be built with or without a canopy, which itself could be set up any number of ways. It could also be adapted in limited ways to older stations as well of other brands. A good number of them were remodeled in the 70's with mansards and fieldstone walls after the new sign came out, and the remodels also carried a new font style.
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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Steve Landry » 11 Sep 2016 09:12

rich wrote:The only other chain that I recall using fieldstone was Union76 in their ranch style and I think that predated Texaco, but probably not by much. They did add it as accent on some Pure Oil stations when those were rebranded to Union76; that I believe was sometime after the acquisition in 1965.

You've seen lots of Teague Texacos. Some have an awning over the pumps, some have a rounded face on the corner, some are more squared along the top--some have more of a loaf of bread shape, some have more than 2 bays. They're not classic art moderne streamline--more boxy than anything else, but they are identified with the streamline style of design. Given that virtually every chain built a version for these until at least the late 50s, it's probably more identified with the post-WWII era, when the vast majority of these were constructed.

https://www.google.com/search?q=teague+ ... n2EbYcM%3A

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v625/ ... 1374339986
Oh wow, okay!

I must have seen quite a few Teagues with the rounded canopies that gave me the impression of an Art Deco (late example because there were several phases of Art Deco) influence.

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Re: Matawan-style Texacos, and their rarity

Post by Ephrata1966 » 06 Jan 2017 16:28

There was a Matawan Texaco in Ocean City, NJ that became a Shell in the 2000s, but I'm not sure if it's still a Shell today. I don't know the address but it's behind the Acme which until recently was a Super Fresh (owned by A&P). There also was a Texaco (not a Matawan building) in nearby Somers Point that also later was a Shell, but I have no idea if it's still a Shell today or not.

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