Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural genius didn’t quite extend into the realm of city planning. Take his beloved Broadacre City concept. Each American family would get an acre of residential land, with other areas set aside for industrial, commercial, and agricultural uses—all of it connected by “spacious landscaped highways.” He continued in his 1932 book The Disappearing City:
Giant roads, themselves great architecture, pass public service stations, no longer eyesores, expanded to include all kinds of service and comfort.
Though a general reflection of what American suburbia has become, Broadacre City never emerged, strictly speaking. But one of those service stations that Wright hyped did see the streetlight of day: the Lindholm Oil Company Service Station, a registered historic site in tiny Cloquet, Minnesota. Today it’s a Spur gas station locatable on Google Maps:
Transportationist David Levinson, who recently filled up at the station, points us to a local history page calling it the “most-photographed and most-asked-about structure in Cloquet.” Opened in 1958, the old Lindholm station’s signature feature is a cantilevered “glass-walled observation lounge” that lets people soak in the glorious vista that is car dependency. Cloquet has more design details:
Wright originally envisioned eliminating standing pumps and placing fuel lines in the cantilevered roof, thereby offering motorists uninhibited access to the station. This was never carried out due to fire code standards and the traditional ground fuel pumps were utilized instead. The three service bays are fitted with skylights to help facilitate the work of mechanics. Cypress wood is found throughout the structure, from the shelving for auto accessories located in the garage and diamond shaped sales office, to the decorative cut elements in the restrooms.
So look for the big “FL Wright” name emblazoned on the steeple-ish structure rising above the gas station during your next Midwestern road trip. Broadacre City might have been misguided, but Wright was right about one thing: it’s not an eyesore.