Out of Gas

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FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-It was motoring’s Golden Age, when America was discovering herself in the increasingly popular automobile. And the grandest road built to handle that growing traffic was the Lincoln Highway running coast to coast, opening up vistas lucky travelers had only seen in books. To feed all those automobiles countless little gas stations popped up, charming structures offering gas and basic car repairs and not much else. In the hundred years since most of those buildings were demolished, some were repurposed and others remain unsure of their fate.

“It represents a development in the style of filling stations when they moved from along the roads into residential neighborhoods,” explains historian Connie Haas Zuber.

At the junction of Goshen Avenue, Lillian Street and Sherman Boulevard, commonly known as Five Points, a handsome chapter of Americas motoring story sits in limbo. The former North Side Bait and Tackle store was built as a gas station in 1920 and its century of service is coming to an end. Five gas stations, one on each corner used stand at Five Points, only two remain. The old bait store and this marvelous former station, now a realtor’s office across the street.

“Residents of nice neighborhoods like the north side of Fort Wayne didn’t want some plain looking shed sort of thing in their neighborhood,” says Zuber, “they wanted something that looked appropriate for the neighborhood.”

But big changes are planned for Five Points. The city will shortly turn it into a roundabout to ease traffic flow and the little brick gas station is right in the way. The city is offering the building to anyone who will move it and repurpose it but the deadline is March sixth so any Good Samaritan will have to be found quickly.

“We’d lose a bit of Lincoln Highway history,” says Zuber. “We’d lose a little bit of our transportation history we’d lose, as we always do when we lose a historic building, a bit of our own identity.”

Part of our story hanging in the balance soon to be just a charming memory. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.



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