Fill 'er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Stations

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Wisconsin Historical Society, Oct 7, 2008 - History - 208 pages

Since their unremarkable beginnings as cheap shacks and curbside pumps, gas stations have taken many forms and worn many guises: pagodas, cottages, and teepees; Tudor Revival and Streamline Moderne; clad with wood, stucco, or gleaming porcelain.

Born at the dawn of the automobile age, the gas station evolved in tandem with the rest of America, responding with architectural and operational changes to the Depression, World War II, the post-war boom and the new interstate highway system, and the environmental movements of the end of the twentieth century. Fill ’er Up traces the history of these ubiquitous buildings, taking readers on a journey to nearly sixty historic stations still standing in Wisconsin. Authors Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz also share the stories of the people who ran these stations—often known as neighborhood meeting places.

Fill ’er Up provides a glimpse into the glory days of gas stations, when a visit meant service with a smile, a windshield wash, and the cheerful question, “Fill ’er up?”

2009 Award of Merit from the American Association for State Local History
2009 Finalist in Travel Guides from ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards
2009 Finalist in Midwest Regional from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association Midwest Book Awards
2009 Finalist in Regional Nonfiction from the National Indie Excellence Awards
2009 Finalist in History/Historical Non-Fiction from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards

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WHS Accession 2008088 photo by Mark Fay
Courtesy of Kay Walters
WHS Accession 2008088 photo by Mark Fay
ca 1935 Courtesy of Jim and Phyllis Spangler
WHS Accession 2008088 photo by Mark Fay
WHS Accession 2008088 photo by Joel Heiman
WHS Accession 2008088 photo by Mark Fay
WHS Accession 2008088 photo by Mark Fay
WHS Accession 2008088 photo by Mark Fay

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About the author (2008)

JIM DRAEGER is an architectural historian with the Wisconsin Historical Society with more than twenty years of historic preservation experience. From roadside architecture to North Woods resorts, Draeger celebrates the importance of ordinary buildings to our daily lives through his research, writing, and lectures. He shares a historic 1936 International-style house in Monona with his wife, Cindy, and son, Nick.

MARK SPELTZ is a historian at American Girl and is completing a master’s degree in history with a specialization in public history at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He has worked as an independent researcher on exhibits for museums, including the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and is active with several museums in Mineral Point, where he lives with his wife, Kari.

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