Visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Gas Station, Beverly Hills Shop, & Rental Cabin

Maybe you've seen Frank Lloyd Wright's circular Guggenheim Museum or his iconic Fallingwater residence, built over a waterfall, in Western Pennsylvania.

But have you visited the world's only Frank Lloyd Wright gas station in Cloquet, Minnesota? How about his glamorous Anderton Court Shops on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills? Do you fancy an overnight stay in a Frank Lloyd Wright cabin, in woodsy Lake Delton, Wisconsin?

Lindholm Service Station, Cloquet, Minnesota

Gas Station

The Lindholm Service Station is the only FLW gas station in the world. With the rise of the automobile in the 1930s, Wright foresaw the need for service stations in every town. Always one to look for beauty in everyday objects, Wright devised the “Standardized Overhead Service Station” - a design he hoped would become standard in every city and highway throughout the country.

The gas station was pulled from his 1935 model of a fictional, decentralized American town, “Broadacre City”, where every citizen would reside on one acre of property, in an open, back-to-nature alternative to the vertical metropolis. The city was never built; only its “Standardized Overhead Service Station” would see the light of day.

Wright, at age 90, finally got his chance to build his station after a 25 year wait. In 1952, Ray W. Lindholm, contracted Mr. Wright to design and build him a private residence, at the urging of Lindholm's daughter who had studied architecture. Later, Wright urged his client to build a gas station for Lindholm's Phillips 66 distributorship in Cloquet, Minnesota. Work began on the station in 1956 and continued until its grand opening two years later, in 1958.

Unique Features of the Station

The service station closely matches Wright's Broadacre City design: a windowed upper level waiting area overlooking the fueling bay, skylights inside the service garage to let in natural light, four service bays, plus radiant underground heating to melt ice off customer's cars. Cyprus wood was used for shelving in the garage, office and on decorative wood cuts in the restrooms.

The most unique feature of the station was its canopy which jutted 35 feet out from the building, with no supporting columns holding it up. Wright wanted easy access into the station and felt columns would mar the beauty of his design.

Gasoline was to be pumped from retractable hoses descending from overhead fueling compartments in the cantilevered canopy, with no ugly gas pumps to mar the view; alas, fire codes prohibited this practice (fuel must be stored underground) and traditional pumps were installed beneath the copper-covered overhang.

Flyer Promoting FLW's Service Station

Source

Phillips 66 Sign

Current Spur Sign

Also unusual is the original 60-foot illuminated rooftop pylon adorned with “Phillips 66”, the initials “FLW” and “Wright” in a futuristic font.

A modern Phillips 66 sign with “World's Only Frank Lloyd Wright Service Station” stood until 2008 when Phillips 66 ended its presence in Minnesota.

Today a lighted “Spur” sign picturing Mr. Wright with the text “Frank Lloyd Wright” towers over the property.

A bronze plaque on the side of the building leads up to the waiting room and designates the Lindholm Service Station as being on the National Register of Historic Places.

Grand Opening

In 1958, Wright's station cost $20,000 to build, four times the national average. When it opened, owner Ray W. Lindholm was pleased with the results and corresponding fanfare, “A customer can stop almost anywhere and get good gasoline, but a beautiful observation lounge like this one is most unusual and will bring the customer back.”

People came from a 150-mile radius to witness the three day grand opening and enter the drawing for a portable television set. The station set a five state record, with 22,000 gallons of gasoline pumped for Phillips 66.

Owner John McKinney, Lindholm's grandson, says it is a testament to Wright's design that the building still functions as a service station today.

Next time you're in Duluth, take a little detour to see this gem in nearby Cloquet. If you're lucky, your car will break down and you can await its repair in this charming service station.

Where to find the Lindholm Service Station

A markerRoute 33 and Cloquet Avenue, Cloquet, MN -
Rte 33 & Cloquet Ave, Cloquet, MN 55720, USA
[get directions]

Anderton Court Shops

Anderton Court Shops on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

Located on Rodeo Drive, in one of the most expensive malls in the country, Wright designed these small boutiques on three levels around a central light well, connected and accessed by an angular ramp. A stunning design, it still wows today.

In 1940, Wright was designing a spiral ramp for his Guggenheim Museum in New York City; that ramp reappeared in the Anderton building. Each shop stands half a level above the next on an open, hexagon spiral. Originally composed of five small shops, each with its own fireplace, a top level apartment was later converted into an additional shop.

View of the Spire From Below

Source

Two central pylons support the cantilevered ramp while a white fiberglass spire rises dramatically above the rooftop. Wright intended the spire and trim to be built of copper, but this proved too expensive. After analyzing fiberglass boats, the team enlisted a local boat builder to fabricate the fascia and spire out of tinted fiberglass. Today the spire and formerly buff-colored building are now white, the trim is black.

Around the time the Court Shops were being built, Wright's Hillside Home School at his Spring Green, Wisconsin estate, Taliesin, was being rebuilt after sustaining a fire. The roofs of both the Beverly Hills Court Shops and Hillside were constructed with mesh-covered wooden beams set four feet apart, then coated with poured concrete on the exterior and plaster on the interior, in an attempt to resist fire.

Top Level Balcony, Anderton Court Shops

Source

Interior, Anderton Court Shops

Source

The balcony on the top level originally featured one foot deep diamond shaped planters. Later, the owner thought the gardening was too much work and installed concrete diamond-shaped tiles over the depressions.

History of the Court Shops

Ex-showgirl, Nina Anderton, was a wealthy widow who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the Court Shops to house her favorite designer's store.

Wright's on-site apprentice, Joe Fabris, stayed in Anderton's Bel Aire home during the construction. Fabris, while working on the building's ramp, often noticed movie stars dining at the adjacent Friar's Club's terrace, below.

The Anderton Court Shops, completed in 1952, are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source

Where to find the Anderton Court Shops

A marker332 North Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA -
332 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA
[get directions]

Seth Peterson Cottage, Lake Delton, Wisconsin

Not many of us will ever live in a Frank Lloyd Wright home. But with a little planning, you can experience that sensation by renting the Seth Peterson Cottage, just outside the Wisconsin Dells. Wright designed the cabin in 1958, just a year before his death. At only 880 square feet, this tiny structure, on a steep, wooded bluff overlooking Mirror Lake, shows how good design can come in any size.

The cottage includes one bedroom and bath plus an open kitchen, dining, and living area dominated by a massive sandstone fireplace which anchors the room. Floor-to-ceiling windows merge the outdoors and indoors, as Wright was fond of doing. The sandstone exterior and interior walls were mined from a local quarry; the floor and terrace are flagstone.

Side view with bedroom at the rear.
Side view with bedroom at the rear.

FLW's Other Projects That Year

Greek Annunciation Church of Milwaukee
Greek Annunciation Church of Milwaukee | Source
Interior, Guggenheim Museum, NYC
Interior, Guggenheim Museum, NYC | Source
Marin County Civic Center, outside of San Francisco
Marin County Civic Center, outside of San Francisco | Source

History of the Cottage

Seth Peterson, who grew up near Wright's Wisconsin home, Taliesin, loved the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. After high school and a stint in the Army, Peterson repeatedly asked Wright to design a home for him and his future bride. Wright, busy creating New York's Guggenheim Museum, California's Marin County Civic Center, and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church outside of Milwaukee, said no. Peterson gave Wright a $1000 retainer, which Frank promptly spent; thus Wright was obligated to design Peterson's dream home on his secluded wooded lot 40 miles north of Wright's Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Construction of the cottage began in 1959, just months before Wright died at age 92. Before the house was finished, after experiencing financial problems and a breakup with his fiancée, Peterson, aged 24, committed suicide in 1960. The house was sold to a Milwaukee man who, after its completion, lived there for five years with his Afghan hounds.

In 1966, the state purchased the house and property for $36,000 for inclusion in Mirror Lake State Park. Unfortunately, the rangers didn't know what to do with the property, so they boarded it up and it sat empty for 20 years, deteriorating and vandalized.

Ruins Discovered

One day a local retired woman, Audrey Laatsch, canoeing on Mirror Lake, noticed the ruins of a cabin up on the hill. Intrigued, she soon discovered that one of Frank Lloyd Wright's last creations lay rotting up there in the woods. Determined to right this wrong, she formed the Seth Peterson Cottage Conservancy with over 60 neighbors and FLW buffs. After receiving a $50,000 grant from the State of Wisconsin's DNR, plus a lease from the state to restore and operate the cottage as an overnight rental unit, reconstruction began in 1991. Shockingly, only the sandstone walls and flagstone floor remained intact.

Ruins Prior to Restoration

Source
Entrance, kitchen, and eating area - Seth Peterson Cottage
Entrance, kitchen, and eating area - Seth Peterson Cottage

Restoration and Rebirth

At a cost of $300,000 the cottage was painstakingly restored to Wright's original design. What was left of the roof was removed and rebuilt. The stone floor was mapped, photographed, and removed, then relaid over concrete embedded with radiant heating pipes, as Wright's design had required. Cabinets and shelves were remade; Wright's furniture designs were finally created.

Living room fireplace, built in sofa, and table.
Living room fireplace, built in sofa, and table.
View from kitchen table to living area.
View from kitchen table to living area.

Grand Opening

Finally, in 1992, the cottage opened for rentals. It is a building that honors both the vision of Wright, the architect, and his persistent client. Serene and stylish, the Seth Peterson Cottage has remained a popular destination for those fortunate enough to sleep and wake in a Wright-designed establishment.

The Seth Peterson Cabin sleeps four and is available year-round for rental, at $250-300 a night, with a two night minimum. With a few exceptions, the popular cabin is booked solid for about a year out. Public tours are available the second Sunday of each month from 1:30 – 3:00 pm for $4 per person. See www.sethpeterson.org for details and directions.

Outdoor balcony overlooking woods and Mirror Lake.
Outdoor balcony overlooking woods and Mirror Lake.

Where to find the Seth Peterson Cottage

A markerMirror Lake State Park, Lake Delton, WI -
Mirror Lake State Park, E10320 Fern Dell Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913-9341, USA
[get directions]

Which Frank Lloyd Building Would You Most Like to Visit

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Comments 19 comments

leroy64 profile image

leroy64 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

Great hub! You have shown me some of his works that I was not familiar with. That is not easy to do. His genius is undeniable; but, his ego was unbelievable.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

Concur. Great Hub!


acc12 profile image

acc12 5 years ago Author

Leroy64 and Perspycacious, It is interesting to contrast the different buildings Wright designed around the same time period. Many of the same themes are repeated, such as the Guggenheim's spiral ramp in the Beverly Hills Anderton Court Shops and his V.C. Morris Gift Shop in San Francisco. The spire in the Court Shops is also similarly used in Wright's Marin County Civic Center, built during the same era. At the same time, Wright managed to incorporate his designs into the unique needs and settings of each place.

This makes a visit to any of the public Wright works an interesting and worthwhile experience. Glad you enjoyed it.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

Frank Lloyd Wrights designs are simply amazing and, like the art that they are, have withstood the test of time. I was surprised and fascinated by the FLW designed gas station! Thanks so much for showcasing it here. Great hub, voted up!


acc12 profile image

acc12 5 years ago Author

Thanks Stephanie, Not many gas stations are worth going out of your way for, but that is one of them! Fortunately Wright's work is scattered throughout the country, so no matter where you live, there's a chance you might find one nearby. Thanks for commenting!


brianlokker profile image

brianlokker 5 years ago from Washington DC metro area

Thanks for telling the stories of these structures. The service station design is exceptional and gets my vote for the one I'd most like to visit. I like the idea that Wright applied his talents to the design of something so mundane. If electric cars become the norm, maybe Wright's original concept of retractable overhead fueling compartments could be implemented.


acc12 profile image

acc12 5 years ago Author

brianlokker, I like visiting the gas station, too. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008 and still intrigues today. Mr. Wright would certainly be pleased if his design, originated in the 1930s, became the prototype for electric charging stations in the twenty-first century!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I completely agree with leroy64. Very interesting hub!


acc12 profile image

acc12 5 years ago Author

randomcreative, thanks. You don't hear about these 3 structures very often, but each one has a real charm.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Nice to know that the Seth Peterson cabin was preserved but a sad story about him. I have seen several Frank Lloyd Wright creations but not these...so thank you for this interesting hub and the photos.


acc12 profile image

acc12 4 years ago Author

Peggy W, yes, as a rental, so many have experienced this Frank Lloyd Wright creation, though Seth Peterson himself never did. A tribute to his original vision, I think. Glad you enjoyed it.


Bldg an Architect profile image

Bldg an Architect 4 years ago

Absolutely fascinating. Reminds me a little bit of John Lautner's roadside architecture. I wonder if Lautner worked on this project while he was still under Wright's tutelage. Thanks for the great hub!


acc12 profile image

acc12 4 years ago Author

Bldg an Architect, Glad you enjoyed it. I've always liked Wright's service station- I see what you mean about John Lautner - there's a definite similarity in some of their work. Thanks for posting!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Oh my! I have enjoyed this amazing tour of Frank Lloy Wright's work so much. These photos are such an added treat. A wonderful history lesson too. I'm saving this to read again and again. Also will share this hub along with voting up and across!


acc12 profile image

acc12 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Vocalcoach! Fortunately many of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings are open to the public. It's always a treat to check out one I haven't seen before.


adawnmorrison profile image

adawnmorrison 4 years ago from The Midwest

II love FLW's designs and the Prairie School of architecture. When I win the lottery, my dean home will be inspired by these designs. It's great to know others appreciate these masterpieces.


acc12 profile image

acc12 4 years ago Author

adawnmorrison, I agree! Though many of his homes are criticized for leaking (!) their appeal is timeless.


Jill Weinlein profile image

Jill Weinlein 2 years ago from Southern California

Very cool hub. Did you know he designed a hotel in Tokyo? I wrote a hub about the Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel. Take a peek - http://hubpages.com/education/Frank-Lloyd-Wright-a...


acc12 profile image

acc12 2 years ago Author

JillWeinlein, Nice hub! I love the chairs. Wright liked to design every aspect of his works. I wonder what he'd think of the addition they put on his Guggenheim Museum?

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