Way Back When: 124 N. Seventh St.
One thing we can count on in the Grand Valley is our gusty spring winds. The often not-so-gentle breezes help trim our trees, scatter pollen and seeds and blow the front off of buildings. It’s my humble opinion, in the case of 124 North Seventh St., it was a blessing in disguise. Thankfully, no one was injured and had it not happened, we may never have seen the original façade of what was once the Cities Oil Co.
Even before the sudden exposure, I would survey the roofline and admire the Spanish influence and terracotta tiles. I came across these two photos, taken in the mid-1930s, that reflect a time when downtown Grand Junction had a service station on nearly every corner. Notice I call them “service stations,” because they did more than supply gasoline; they provided a service to their customers. Employees, neatly dressed and knowledgeable, would pump your gas, wash your windows, check your tires and oil levels, and make sure your radiator was adequately full.
In the late 1880s, the land the building sits on belonged to the Masonic Lodge. And it was most likely granted to the organization by George A. Crawford, town father and the fellow entombed in the mausoleum on Reservoir Hill, south of the Municipal Cemetery. A lodge was never built on that piece of property, but for years there were a couple of simple dwellings, one being a log cabin.
Jump ahead 20 years and you’ll find a motor shop built upon the land, a wooden floor garage where a guy could have his motor fixed while he was still in the auto or not. They sold tires and oil and gasoline.
William Post acquired the property around 1924 and it became the home of Haney’s Oldsmobile dealership in 1928. In 1930, the land changed into the hands of the Cities Oil Co., and Robert and Henrietta Houdashelt ran the business until 1943. Cities Oil Co. had remodeled the brick building to appear as it does in the photos and as the recent unveiling has shown us, as it does now.
I find the stucco exterior to be charming, stylish and modern for its time. The building is currently for sale. I pray the new buyers or present owners preserve what has been revealed and don’t change it to become another unremarkable “improved” building. It’s a solid landmark and reminiscent of another time.
Many of us remember 124 N. Seventh as Mesa Sanitary Supply, The Hob Nob Second Hand Store and most recently, a tortilla factory. The building to the north, on the corner where the gas pumps once were, was erected in 1959.
Do a drive-by and gawk at the fine architectural example. You can’t miss it, just north of my favorite downtown bar and grill, The Blue Moon. Wind is good.
■ Correction: Last Monday in my article about the Grand Speedway, I misspelled the name of the Files Bros. and it appeared as Flies.