We regularly stop at these ubiquitous canopied buildings to fill up on gas, drinks, and the occasional corn dog. Unless you’re in need of urgent snacks or fuel, gas stations can be easily overlooked. As intertwined as they are with our daily lives, they are also intertwined with American architectural history — and have been for over a century. New Orleans, world-renowned for its historic architecture, has several fine examples of historic filling stations. While some have retained their original use, others have been adapted for creative new uses. Here’s a list of a few of our favorite historic gas stations in New Orleans that have been adaptively reused to serve new purposes.
The Station – 4400 Bienville
This charmingl little building with a steep purple-tiled roof is one of Mid-City’s newest coffee shops, appropriately-named the Station. The 1930s-era filling station on Bienville Street had been vacant for several years until it was extensively renovated by Megan and Jonathan Walker. The Station opened in February of this year ‒ swing by to check out their coffees, teas, breakfast, and pastries made in-house. With indoor and outdoor seating and a lending library, there are plenty of spots in this historic gas station to curl up with a good book or chat with friends over coffee.
Not too far from the Station, this historic filling station is now a posh residential space. The 1918 gas station was converted by Robert Guthrie for his private residence. From the outside, the home is rather unassuming with a canopied overhang, a tile roof, and the Sinclair sign still intact. The interior is decked out with a modern two-story loft residence. The loft is made out of the historic hydraulic lift, and small details hinting at the building’s past life can be found throughout the building: car emblem cabinet handles, an oil can toilet paper holder, and headlight sconces to name a few. Guthrie used the home as his private residence until the artist’s death in 2014.
This historic Esso gas station in the Marigny is truly delightful, painted bright orange and adorned with potted plants and garden decorations. Historic gas pumps sit out front with a sign reading “Sorry! Out of gas today, come back tomorrow!” After some internet-digging, this one still remains somewhat of a mystery. We believe it’s a private residence, a garden store, or a mixture of the two. If anyone knows more details about this building, let us know!
Cowbell – 8801 Oak
Historic gas stations make excellent spaces for restaurants, especially when the open canopies covering the gas pumps can be re-used for outdoor seating. Cowbell in the Carrollton neighborhood is one of these gas-stations-turned restaurants that won’t disappoint. The 1940s filling station now cranks out burgers, cold drinks, hand-cut fries, and mouthwatering mac and cheese.
Next time you’re driving around town, make sure you take note of the historic filling stations that dot the urban landscape. The versatile buildings are worth saving, and are filled with potential for new uses. If you’re inspired by this list, there’s a historic gas station for sale in Central City that’s begging for a creative new use. What potential do you see for the historic building?
I am loving this adorable old gas station, it’s a bright spot on a run down lot in Central City. Would love to see a photo from its heyday. ⛽️ UPDATE! This building and its large lot are currently for sale. Just went on the market this week. 1735 Washington Avenue, $289k. I hope this building survives the next owner