Honor Hopper, not gas station

"Indian Filling Station and Lubritorium" not worth saving

The Boston Globe this morning weighed in on the debate about whether the decrepit former Socony gas station in Wellfleet was worth saving. Above is Edward Hopper's famous painting using the station as his subject and on right the station today. See the station 1n 1960 vs last year at the bottom from the National Registry of Historic Places Evaluation of April 2009.

The Boston Globe Editorial, Sunday, April 11, 2010.

Apart from its official name, the "Indian Filling Station and Lubritorium,'' very little remains that is quaint about the 1920s-era gas station that sits off Route 6 in Wellfleet, near the Truro line. The building is abandoned and ramshackle, with boarded-up windows and a crumbling roof. It looks nothing like the hauntingly pristine roadside filling station in Edward Hopper's famous painting, "Gas.'' But while the Cape Cod National Seashore wants to tear down the building for safety reasons, the Massachusetts Historical Commission insists the site is a rare example of the iconic gas stations that inspired Hopper's art.

The Indian Filling station, alas, is not the best example on which to wage that fight. It's not even clear that it was the model for Hopper's painting, and any effort to restore it would be costly. Even if the Historical Commission succeeds in earning the station a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, the demolition will eventually happen. Still, the Commission has a point about aiming to preserve all aspects of culture, not just those that relate to wars and boldfaced historical events.

Hopper's legacy on Cape Cod is rich and imperiled; an unfinished mansion now sits near the Truro site where he once painted, disrupting the landscape that inspired his work. It's worth finding ways to preserve the concrete vestiges of his time on the Cape, because his work is meaningful and, yes, historic.

The station in 1960 on left and last year on right.

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