Powell (airplane-shaped) Sevice Station
Posted 03 January 2008 - 04:18 PM
"Powell Service Station Airplane to fly again?
Just south of Ciderville between Knoxville and Clinton stands one of the more interesting roadside attractions in Tennessee: the Powell Airplane Service Station. Built in 1930, the structure recalls the excitement of a time when aviators such as Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes captured public imagination. It sits along Highway 25W, a stretch of the famed Dixie Highway that ran from Detroit to Miami.
In our time, when one can drive 500 miles in one day and seemingly enter the same gas station/convenience store over and over, we can only imagine the delight of motorists from far away coming around the corner and seeing this fanciful building.
Such structures once graced American highways, but almost all have been bulldozed. This one survives, just barely. A wonderful group calling itself the Airplane Filling Station Preservation Association seeks to restore the station to its original condition. Their website details progress and gives an address to which supporters can send donations.
You can checkout the website at:
Here's another article about the Powell Airplane from Knoxnews.com,
Clayton Hensley, Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Preservation effort gaining ground - Folks, businesses doing their part to help save landmark
Carol Johnson and Tom Milligan wear seasonal attire for a fundraising appeal at the Airplane Service Station on Saturday in Powell. Members of the station痴 preservation association were seeking money for Phase II of the landmark痴 restoration.
Long before the days of pay at the pump, travelers driving along the famed Dixie Highway often landed at an unusual-looking service station in Powell to fuel up.
That airplane service station that now sits in a bend on U.S. Highway 25W overlooking a sprawling line of big-box retailers, restaurants and housing developments is no longer falling into disrepair, a victim of the elements.
Work is underway to rehab the historic landmark and money is being raised to cover the costs.
Brothers Elmer and Henry Nickle opened their Texaco service station in the early 1930s, after deciding an ode to aviation was just what was needed to lure travelers along the newly widened Dixie Highway, a major north-south artery that linked Chicago and Detroit with Miami. Seventy years later, the community has banded together and work is progressing to restore the historic landmark.
By the 1960s, the station stopped selling gas and the building eventually housed a liquor store, a produce stand and several used car dealerships. The Texaco stars and the gas pumps have faded into history, but one group is racing against the clock to bring the station back to life.
"The first time I saw it I was just captivated by the shape and everything, and distressed by the condition of it," said Rock Bernard, a member of the Airplane Filling Station Preservation Association. "We need to save this thing, so we're trying like crazy to do it."
AFSPA took flight in 2003 with the goal of preserving the plane, an example of Mimetic or Whimsical Architecture. According to Bernard, the preservation project on Clinton Highway just north of Schaad Road is expected to cost between $116,000 and $210,000.
The work passers-by see going on is to help stabilize the wings of the plane.
"This is the most critical phase," Bernard said, noting that once the building is stabilized and there is enough money in the bank, AFSPA members hope to work on the fuselage and the interior.
"Our intent is to leave the exterior profile historically correct," Bernard said, which includes old-fashioned pumps out front and restoring the entrance that was about two feet above the ground. The building will likely be leased out as office space.
Bernard gives Tom Milligan much of the credit for recent efforts to "Save the Plane."
Milligan helped convince the previous owners to sell the property and he even put up earnest money to secure the purchase.
"I was coming up through here one day and I seen they had two bulldozers on the front and I thought they was fixin' to wreck the place," Milligan said, noting that when he first started working on the project he "knew we were going to have to have quite a lot of money to fix it."
In 2005, Knox County gave AFSPA a $15,000 grant, which Bernard and Milligan said was used to purchase the property. Since then, AFSPA members have been selling T-shirts, magnets and other memorabilia to raise money for restoration efforts, which totals about $35,000, including Knox County's contribution.
Repairs to the building and the property purchase have depleted much of the funds, according to Bernard, who said an anonymous donor will match up to $5,000 in donations.
Other businesses in the community also have been doing their part to "Save the Plane."
Tom Householder, manager of Home Depot on Clinton Highway, had been reading about the plane's plight when a customer came in and talked to him about it. Householder is a Powell native.
"I know it's been a historic thing, even back to when I was a kid," Householder said. "It's a big part of Powell."
Home Depot has donated lumber, screws and scaffolding. "I believe in trying to save anything we can and especially something historical," said Householder.
And if the group gets to the point where more help is needed, Householder said one of his Team Depot Volunteer crews may also pitch in. AFSPA is also getting help from the Clayton Family Foundation and Saf-T-Enterprises.
The Community Partnership Center at the University of Tennessee, an organization working to help communities take advantage of UT's academic resources, dispatched graduate students to get the airplane service station on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Tim Ezzell, director of the Community Partnership Center, had driven by the plane several times and found it to be a valuable piece of local history.
"It's a real link to that part of the county," Ezzell said. "It was built at a time when motoring was more of an adventure.
As Powell continues to boom and new stores pop up all around the plane, Ezzell said the plane gives Powell personality and an identity.
"Maybe the restoration can help that stretch of highway," he said.
Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:30 PM
Posted 24 February 2008 - 10:52 PM
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